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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Otto Feinstein


For decades the educational system has dedicated a massive quantity of resources to the end of equipping young adults with the necessary skills and values to support a working democratic culture. However, most measures of civic participation and learning suggest that the civic education system has little impact on democratic skills and values. And although education systems are struggling to respond with policies targeted at the reform of civic education, it is not clear that these reform practices will effectively redirect the in-school resources toward the delivery of the key experiences for the civic development of youth. The Youth Urban Agenda (YUA) is a civic education project developed for secondary and undergraduate students and was designed to deliver key civic experiences that support the development of a public identity during adolescence and young adulthood. In the YUA, participants bring issues relevant to their own life experiences to group forums where collective agendas are considered and adopted. From these classroom, school and cross-metropolitan agenda building sessions, a common agenda is developed and strategies planned to use the agenda to influence the civic system. Throughout the YUA, students conduct and present issue research, weigh and combine alternative agenda items, and consider avenues for political communication and action related to the final multi-school agenda. The research described in this document is designed to assess both project impact, as well as to search out more formative linkages between program elements and project outcomes. Results indicate that the YUA has small to moderate effects on civic dispositions related to social tolerance, political efficacy, and civic interest. Students that participated in the cross metropolitan YUA convention exhibited more positive value change. Formative analyses suggest that teacher training and an instructional process that emphasizes small group work, reflection, and follow-up are most effective. Although minority students experienced greater value change and expressed stronger support for the project than non-minority students, the relationship between minority status and program effects was not related to teacher experience or instructional process.

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