Young Texans Gather to Explore Causes and Solutions for Low Civic Engagement

Sept. 20, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas — Event: The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS and KUT News 90.5 are hosting an interactive dialogue among young Texans — those who are engaged and those who aren't — about the causes of low civic participation in Central Texas and how to boost it. "Why Bother? Voices of a New Generation" will explore:

  • Why some young people are passionate community volunteers but disengaged voters,
  • Why others are opting out of a presidential election that offers radically different visions for the future of the country, and
  • What it will take to magnify the influence of the largest potential voting bloc in America in the political process.

Featured panelists include: Jeanne Goka, principal of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders; Paulina Sosa, University of Texas student and ONE Campaign Austin leader; Ann Beeson, Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life; and other young leaders and community members.

The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required. Participants may register at

When: 7-8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2

Where: KLRU, Studio 6A, 2504-B Whitis Ave. (southeast corner of Guadalupe and Dean Keeton streets)

Background: This community forum will be streamed live online on KLRU-TV and It will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, on KLRU (channel 18, cable channel 9) and KUT 90.5, and again on KLRU at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7 and on KUT 90.5 at 5 p.m. on Oct. 7. KUT News is producing a series of reports on the crisis of civic engagement, which will air leading up to and following the Oct. 2 forum.

Sponsored by the Strauss Institute for Civic Life, KLRU and KUT, this event is part of "Why Bother? Engaging Texans in Democracy Today," a news and public dialogue series intended to get people talking about why Texas has one of the lowest rates of civic engagement in the world, and what we can do about it.

Future public dialogues this fall and next spring will address the impact of changing demographics on civic participation in Central Texas, how to get your voice heard by the Texas Legislature and what it will take to get more citizens involved in Austin city government and planning. For more information about the series and the civic engagement crisis in Central Texas, visit

For more information, contact: Laura Byerley;  Erin Geisler, KUT Radio, Moody College of Communication, 512-475-8071; April Burcham,; (512) 475-9070

3 Comments to "Young Texans Gather to Explore Causes and Solutions for Low Civic Engagement"

1.  Xira said on Sept. 20, 2012

Nobody votes because things are so gerrymandered that most votes simply don't matter?

2.  Rick Cherwitz said on Sept. 20, 2012

I am so happy to see that Paulina Sosa has been selected to take part in this important discussion. She is this year’s President of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Citizen Scholars student organization. As an IE participant, Paulina demonstrated a passion for and commitment to leveraging knowledge for social good—which is the very essence of being a “citizen scholar.”

Watch one of Paulina’s videos about community engagement:

3.  Johanna Hartelius said on Sept. 24, 2012

What a wonderful event! It's great to see that the Strauss Institute, which has received much well-deserved praise for its programming and civic mobilization, is still continuing to innovate. The questions posed at the beginning of this message indicate how civic engagement may be reconceptualized, shifting the focus from electoral participation exclusively to other modes of acting in social and political contexts on one's expertise and experiences. Paulina Sosa, with her background with UT's Intellectual Entrepreneurship, will surely be poised to address this shift and its implications compellingly. Wish I could be there!