The UCSD Democracy Lab

This quarter (Fall 2016), I am teaching the introductory course COMM 102C: Practicum in New Media & Communication, which is a part of the “UCSD Democracy Lab.

“A core question driving our research is, how do we co-design experiences that put tangible, immediate practices for change in the hands of young people and families?

We believe that lab environments for public participation are missing from the landscape. Labs make it possible for us to explore shared, current, critical issues in our day-to-day lives and discover where, when, and how we can take action together.

While still in its pilot phase, The Democracy Lab intends to offer this support along these lines by providing a workshop-like atmosphere. The lab is a place where ideas are modeled, prototyped, tested, shared, critiqued, and revised. Work in the lab is intended to play a role in daily life and offer a means for youth and families to express their many forms of agency. A lab for democratic practice can help groups focus that agency on making seemingly fixed circumstances – those circumstances that blind us to possibilities – available for problem posing, organizing, storytelling, mobilizing, and importantly, direct community contribution. Through this design-based study, we are working to develop a hands-on, participation-oriented experience. The lab will provide the structure and tools to support the following: (1) audience mapping – connecting pertinent issues with potential collaborators, (2) prototyping – rapidly creating multiple approaches to be tested and refined with collaborators, (3) mobilizing – helping supporters become active allies and participants, (4) sustaining – developing and testing strategies for seeing the work through to its intended outcome.

The Democracy Lab is a project of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at the University of California, San Diego.”