Cross-Disciplinary Civic Education Research

Institution: DePaul University


In 2015, we studied what Chicago high school students learn from participating in Mikva Challenge’s Project Soapbox curriculum (an action civics public speaking curriculum). One of our most intriguing findings was that, although Project Soapbox is a curriculum focused on speaking, our data suggest that an important part of its impact actually comes through listening. And, in contrast to more academic forms of listening, the listening that participants reported learning from Project Soapbox is a form of empathic listening that not only helps students value other perspectives, but also helps students connect directly with the experiences of others. These findings have motivated us to pursue further research that would dig more deeply into the affective civic competencies that Soapbox develops, particularly the listening element. We hope to develop, test and refine measures that capture this intersection of socio-emotional and civic competencies and that would be applicable to civic education research generally. We would then do a broader study of Soapbox using these measures.