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Source: Massey University

Dr Emily Beausoleil will discuss ideas on everyday citizenship and why this contributes to a healthy democracy

Citizenship should be about more than voting once every three years, says politics lecturer Dr Emily Beausoleil who will share ideas on how to be an engaged citizen at the Festival for the Future this weekend (July 27-29).

Dr Beausoleil is taking part in a panel discussion on a topic she feels passionately about and believes is vital for the next generation for the functioning of a healthy, robust democracy.

She is part of a panel of guests talking on the future of government and civic engagement, a topic feeding into the festival mission to empower and develop future young leaders. The event, organised by charitable trust Inspiring Stories, is expecting 1500-2000 attendees at the TSB Arena in Wellington.

“I’ll be talking about how people are creating experiences of citizenship in their own lives and communities and inviting discussion as to how government might be more connected and responsive to, and supportive of, these kinds of civic engagement beyond the Beehive,” she says.

Dr Emily Beausoleil will talk at the festival about what it means to be an active citizen 

Developing citizenship ‘muscles’

Her main message is that; “citizenship isn’t just something we have, or something we exercise every three years when we vote, but something we do as an ongoing activity. It means to have a say in the decisions that affect us, and to create sites where we can feel agency and of community and develop the ‘muscles’ that citizenship requires.”

She hopes her contribution will “connect with young, passionate people [at the festival] and hopefully be able to change the script out there regarding a very narrow idea of what being a citizen looks like.”

There are already incredible examples of young people changing their communities in creative and powerful ways, with youth only needing to be given the channels in which to direct their ideas, energy and brilliance, she says.

“If they can have a sense of that wealth of examples of people like them, doing this work of everyday citizenship – and if we can signal to government the need to encourage and be in relationship with these kinds of civic activities – then we have a far more hopeful picture of civic possibility.”

The Festival for the Future 2018 hopes to attract between 1500 to 2000 participants this weekend

Festival empowering youth with a sense of what citizenship means

Dr Beausoleil is one of several Massey staff and students speaking at the festival (#FFTF18), which the University is supporting in light of its commitment to encouraging, inspiring and preparing students as civic leaders, global citizens and change-makers. 

The festival’s focus on empowering young leaders dovetails with the ethos of Massey’s lead festival support, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and its refreshed Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree: ‘Creative thinking for a changing world’.  

As well as a senior lecturer of politics in the School of People, Environment and Planning, Dr Beausoleil is Associate Editor of Democratic Theory journal. As a political theorist, she explores democratic ideals of voice, listening, and responsiveness, particularly in highly diverse and unequal societies. Her interest in studying politics began with a focus on how creative forms such as theatre and dance can be a powerful form of voice for marginalised communities. 

Her current Marsden Project asks what politics might learn from four practical sectors – conflict mediation, therapy, education, and performance – and connects this kind of practical insight to the challenge of engaging communities about issues of structural injustice, like socioeconomic inequality. She has been the lead designer on Massey University’s capstone Bachelor of Arts core course on Active Citizenship. 

For more information or to get tickets for Festival for the Future 2018

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