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Becoming Owners of Our Nation, Community, and Neighborhood

Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, and Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, share ways to make community engagement innovative and civic education relevant. They also emphasize closing the digital divide.

Interview with Jean Case and Jeffrey Rosen July 8, 2021

For more than two decades, Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, has been involved with engaging citizens, especially young Americans, in the life of their communities. As President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, Jeffrey Rosen’s mission is to educate Americans about the principles and values of the Constitution.

Case, who also chairs the National Geographic Society and is a member of the George W. Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Council, and Rosen, who also teaches law at George Washington University and contributes to The Atlantic, discuss in this Democracy Talks video engaging Americans of all backgrounds in civic life. They spoke with Chris Walsh, Senior Program Manager in the Human Freedom Initiative at the Bush Institute, and William McKenzie, Senior Editorial Advisor at the Bush Institute, describing how citizens can feel like they “own” their nation, community, and neighborhood. They also report on ways to make community engagement innovative and civic education relevant. And they emphasize closing the digital divide and finding ways to break out of our bubbles.

[Civic engagement is ignited in] this process of making citizens feel like owners of their nation, of their community, of their neighborhood.

– Jean Case

At the Constitution Center our focus on civic engagement is civic education. We're trying to inspire learners of all ages to engage with the central ideals that define us as Americans and exploring areas of agreement and disagreement in a civil and respectful way so that we can grow in wisdom.

— Jeffrey Rosen

If we really are going to meet people where they are, we're going to have to do a better job as a nation of deploying digital communication across small communities.

– Jean Case

We have three pillars for the way that we try to engage. First, historical exploration through storytelling. Second, teaching people to separate their political views from their constitutional views. And third, listening to different points of views so you can disagree without being disagreeable.

– Jeffrey Rosen

We did some social science work to look back across time, across geographies, and across sectors to say what leads to breakthroughs and really bring purpose in communities. And we found these five principles, but one of them, which I wrote about in my book, we call reach beyond your bubble.

– Jean Case