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Danielle Allen, “The Ethics of Participation in the Digital Age”

Working with a team of collaborators, Harvard University professor and political theorist Danielle Allen has developed ten design principles for effective, equitable, and self-protective civic agency in a digital age. These principles provide guidance to those functioning as civic actors, and to those who are designing platforms or organizations to cultivate, support, or channel civic involvement.

Allen spoke on the “Ethics of Participation in the Digital Age” on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 on the UO campus as the OHC’s 2018–19 Kritikos Lecturer in the Humanities. Allen’s talk is the final lecture in The Common Good series.

Allen is a compelling analyst of history and contemporary events and a leader in higher education. She is currently Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University as well as Professor in Harvard’s Department of Government and Graduate School of Education. Before joining Harvard, she was UPS Foundation Professor in the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, the first African American faculty member to be appointed to the Institute that was Einstein’s home for two decades.

Of her upcoming talk, Allen writes, “Sixties activists insisted the personal is political. Change-makers in the digital age get that idea, and one-up it with another rallying cry: the political is social and cultural.”

Allen advises that “Your platforms and digital strategies need to make this principle count, so that you, your peers, and your audiences engage each other, and the allies you all want, in high-quality, equitable, and effective participation in digital-age civics, activism, and politics. What’s more, you need digital environments that actively support the secure development of your identities as participants in public spheres, so your civic and political engagement today doesn’t harm or haunt you later. Thinking that through comes first.”

Allen is the author of six books, including Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (W.W. Norton, 2015), which won the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians and the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Nonfiction; and CUZ: The Life and Times of Michael A. (Liveright, 2017).