Abstract

Questions of how to support students in conversation across and about different perspectives regularly appear in discussions about civic engagement. Students with clear political positions and a desire to engage with political institutions, however, are themselves a rarified group on many campuses. The gulf between students who seek to engage their peers in civic action and those who see establishment politics as irrelevant, alienating, or hopeless may be more significant than any partisan divides. Thus, a liberal arts program committed to voter mobilization should help engaged, active students think carefully about the audience for their efforts and how best to communicate with those whose perspective of political participation varies significantly from their own. This article argues that personas, a tool common in design, can be incorporated into civic engagement programs to help students with a strong civic identity understand how to bridge this divide. This article discusses the importance of helping students communicate across the division of interest and apathy, the role of personas as a tool in design, and our experience using personas to help students develop and implement a nonpartisan voter mobilization drive. It closes with tips for those interested in using personas in their civic engagement projects.

You do not currently have access to this content.