Bloomington, Indiana – October 2, 2023
In a newsletter published Tuesday, Indiana University President Pamela Whitten announced the United States Department of Defense has awarded Indiana University 5.7-million dollars to “transform civics education and expand young people’s interest in public service careers.”
The newsletter spoke in generalities about how the money will be used, but it seems part of the plan is to create a new app called, “Democracy Quest” that in the words of President Whitten, “will take high schoolers on an immersive virtual-reality journey through the inner workings of representative government and help them build real-life skills of advocacy, compromise and consensus building.”
It’s not stated if the app would be available on iPhone, or other types of devices, or where high schoolers might be able to access it.
The newsletter went on to say, in the words of President Whitten:
“Across our nation, we continue to see low voter turnout compared with other democracies and declining levels of volunteerism. General knowledge of government is also dropping, with less than half of adults able to name the three branches of the U.S. government.
In response, IU is stepping up its commitment to educate and empower a more engaged citizenry through community-oriented, hands-on educational programs that encourage citizens of all ages to develop expertise in leadership, civil communications and public decision-making.
These programs include the new iEngage, a weeklong summer civics camp for fifth- to eight-graders presented by the Center on Representative Government at IU Columbus. They also span PACE, the Political and Civic Engagement program at IU Bloomington, which inspires IU students to participate in political and civic activities; and the Indiana Civic Health Index, where faculty and staff across multiple IU campuses are defining action steps to help our state become a national leader in civic engagement.
Congressman Hamilton has said, “For our democracy to succeed, we need to teach each new generation how to become informed and engaged citizens.”
This important work ties directly to IU 2030. We will improve Hoosiers’ lives by ensuring they are more knowledgeable, more active and engaged, and more empowered to make a positive impact in the communities they call home.”
However, perhaps if half of people can’t name the three branches of government, the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, they might not know what IU 2030 is, or how it might benefit the larger Bloomington community.
It’s also unclear what the Department of Defense hopes to get from an app designed by IU, but one could infer that it has something to do with warfare since the DoD oversees protecting the United States from foreign enemies. So, there must be a real threat or a perceived threat, and that’s not entirely addressed.
However, according to Boston University, “International and domestic disinformation campaigns targeting Americans is our most pressing and dire threat to the security of our republic.”
More can be found on IU 2030 here: