2012-13 Catalog

Decorative graphic

Offering Description

Social Imagination and Civic Intelligence


Fall 2012, Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 quarters

Douglas Schuler social informatics, computer supported cooperative work, computer science, software engineering
Fields of Study
community studies and sociology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
public policy, sociology, information studies, non-profit work, social entrepreneurism, activism, citizenship

"If we can't imagine a better world, we won't get it."
- John Robinson of UBC's Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability

We live in a world where technological innovation is continuously celebrated, but how far does technological innovation by itself take us? We are surrounded with problems that cannot be solved by individuals acting alone, yet how can we act collectively to address these challenges? How can we develop and use the social capital and other capacities we have to preserve and protect the commons and our shared future? How can we develop and nurture the "civic intelligence" that will help ensure our actions produce the best outcomes?

In this full-year program, we will focus our efforts—both reflective and action-oriented—on the theory and practice of social innovation in which "ordinary" people begin to assume greater power and responsibility for creating a future that is more responsive to the needs of people and the planet. We will consider and critique cases of collective action as diverse as the World Social Forum and the Occupy Movement in addition to local and regional approaches in Thurston County and beyond. We will also examine innovative approaches such as Tactical Technology, Beehive Collective, Deliberative Polling, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, public sociology, the Civic Intelligence Research Action Laboratory (CIRAL), and Web 2.0 technology that have potential to address social and environmental problems while promoting social learning and civic intelligence.

Social imagination helps us to create and ponder possible futures. Civic intelligence is an evolving, cross-disciplinary perspective that examines, proposes, initiates, and evaluates collective capacity for the common good. Throughout the program we will employ the concepts of social imagination and civic intelligence to gain understanding and skills that go beyond academic theories and "best practices" to include collaborative work, creativity, and worldviews through workshops, experiments, games, and group processes in addition to reading, writing, and discussion. 

Students registering for 12 credits will be working specifically towards establishing and maintaining the Civic Intelligence Research Action Laboratory (CIRAL) that supports ongoing collaborative community projects. In addition to our regular meetings times and the work that they undertake outside of class they will meet each Wednesday before class from 4:30 to 6:00. There will be opportunities for students to serve in various roles on different projects. There will also be a student-led "home office" group that produces white papers, case studies, and other resources for the projects.

Advertised Schedule
4:30-6p Wed for 12-credit students; for all students: 6-10p Wed, 10a-5p Sat (four Saturdays per quarter: fall: Sep. 29, Oct. 20, Nov. 10, Dec. 1; winter: Jan. 12, Feb. 2, 23, Mar. 9; spring: Apr. 13, May 4, 18, June 1)
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$20 per quarter for project supplies
Research Possibilities
There will research opportunities for students signed up for 12 credits and possibilities for those signing up for 8 credits. Taking this program is a good preparation for working with the Undergraduate Research in Civic Intelligence option in future quarters. 
May be offered again in
This program will be offered in various guises for the next two years. 
Offered During
Evening and Weekend

Program Revisions

Date Revision
January 16th, 2013 Dates added for Saturday spring quarter class meetings.
October 4th, 2012 Dates added for Saturday winter quarter class meetings.