Education and Citizenship in the Digital Age
A seminar presented by Darin Barney, Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University
March 24, 2005
This talk investigates the role of education in addressing the challenges posed for citizenship by technology. Drawing on a republican theory of citizenship that emphasizes participation in public judgment as to ends, the chapter identifies three ways in which technology challenges citizenship: as potential means of citizenship practice; as a potential object of political judgment; and as the necessary setting of citizenship activity. I then proceed to examine possible educational responses to each of these challenges. These responses include technological facility, critical technological literacy and immersion in the humanities. It is argued that while the practical and epistemological contradictions between these responses are significant, the demands of citizenship in technological societies are such that an accommodation between them must be sought. I conclude by assessing the chances for such an accommodation in light of recent efforts to orient education more fully towards the perceived needs of “innovation” and the “knowledge” economy.