Millennial women in the 2016 election

A new paper by CIRCLE Director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg investigates Millennial women’s participation in the 2016 election, their views of democracy, and their own political engagement in the Trump era. It was published as part of a symposium on gender and Millennials convened by the Council on Contemporary Families and is cited today in a New York Times op-ed.

According to the paper, 50 percent of young white women voted for Clinton; 41 percent, for Trump. Young women of color preferred Clinton by wider margins. Only 25% of Millennial women identified as feminists, and less than 15% say that the possibility of electing the first woman president informed their vote choice. Young women were more likely than young men to be inspired by Clinton, but only 23 percent reported that feeling. After the election, they are more concerned about the future of democracy than their male peers are, but not more likely than Millennial men to be interested in political engagement.

Univ. of San Diego Hosts “Rebuilding Civility” Conference

If you work on political civility or live in the San Diego area, we encourage you to consider attending the Restoring Respect conference at the University of San Diego this April 18-19. The gathering convenes teachers, students, and community members to discuss civic engagement, dialogue, and other work that can help us in #BridgingOurDivides, as well as a plenary session panel moderated by long-time NCDD member Carolyn Lukensmeyer of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. We encourage you to learn more in the USD announcement below or learn more at the conference website here.

Restoring Respect – 6th Annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue – “Rebuilding Civility”

The 2016 election was the most divisive and vitriolic in American history. From candidates’ personal attacks to paralysis and dysfunction in national government, the price tag of incivility, and resulting failure to reach political consensus, has never been greater.

Join other concerned members of our community in an ongoing discussion about how to restore respect to the local and national civic dialogue. Explore ways to better educate the next generation of citizens and community leaders on how to better build our American community.

The 6th annual Restoring Respect conference will be held April 18-19, 2017 at the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. The morning and afternoon of Tuesday April 18 and the afternoon of Wednesday, April 19 will be dedicated to panel discussions, practicum demonstrations and speaker presentations. Our plenary session with keynote address and our panel of regional university leaders discussing civility, community-building and higher education will be held the morning of Wednesday, April 19.

The conference is an opportunity for high school and college educators, staff, and most particularly students to gain hands-on experience in creating effective, respectful, and equitable diaogue across their campuses and their communities. The conference offers members of all private-sector and public organziations and inidivuals engaged in civic engagment an opportunity to learn about issues affecting civil discourse today and strategies for creating more effective civic engagment from the workplace to the public space.

The goal of the conference is to continue an ongoing national dialogue on how to repair the partisan divide in American politics and civic discourse, rebuild bridges of cooperation and understanding between American political and socio-economic communities, and develop pathways to more effective policy-making at the local, regional, state, and national levels.

You can find more info about this University of San Diego event at the conference website at

FJCC Webinar 2: Review, Remediation, and Reteaching for the Civics EOCA Now Available

Good morning, friends. Our recent webinar is now available! It discussed some resources and tools that you can use for reteaching, remediation, and review. You can view it below.

All resources and tools discussed in the webinar are available at Our next webinar will occur in June, and address understanding the the data you receive about the Civics EOCA.

Invention as Knowledge Production

In Kenneth Arrow’s “Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Intervention,” he begins with what may seem like a bold statement: Invention here is broadly interpreted as the production of knowledge.

From this perspective, “invention” isn’t inherently about creating things, it is fundamentally about generating new knowledge. That knowledge may or may not result in new technologies or devices; knowledge itself is the creation.

Arrow uses this definition to point to a core need for the “knowledge economy.” Invention – knowledge creation – is an inherently risky business decision. As Arrow writes, “By the very definition of information, invention must be a risky process, in that the output (information obtained) can never be predicted perfectly from the inputs.”

This inherent risk multiplies. If I can’t guarantee to produce a certain knowledge you can’t guarantee to pay me for it. If you do make such a guarantee, if you agree to pay me regardless of what knowledge I create, then – under the classic economic models of utility – I no longer have motivation to generate that knowledge.

Furthermore, once and idea is generated, it is, in some respects, free. If I undertake the risk of producing knowledge and everyone profits equally from my labor, then – again, under classic economic models of utility – I no longer have motivation to generate knowledge. I’d rather free-ride off your knowledge creation.

This is, in fact, the underlying logic of the patent system: potential inventors will only have motivation to invent under a system that guarantees benefits from successful invention.

What I find particularly interesting about the “knowledge production” definition of invention, though, is that it assumes, in a certain sense, that knowledge is perfectly replicable. What’s missing from this framing is an idea that knowledge I generate can only be generated, uniquely, by me.

That’s not so say that once I generate an idea, you can’t interpret it and use it to generate your own idea. Indeed, one might say such a process is the very essence of science; as thought percolates across time and disciplines, through interpretation by human inventors. That is the very nature of progress.

Arrow’s definitions remind me of Lauren Klein’s work on Elizabeth Peabody: the transcendental scholar and educator who created impossibly complex mural charts. These charts were intentionally difficult to interpret, not as a tactic of frustration but to invite the viewer into a process of knowledge co-creation.

The interpretation of art is not the sole property of the artist; and an understanding of knowledge does not belong solely to the person who had the idea. That isn’t just an economic challenge to be overcome: it is a declaration of the very essence of knowledge. Knowledge doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it doesn’t just spring to life within one person’s brain. Knowledge only comes to be as a process of co-creation; as a slow accumulation of fuzzy recollections. It is humanity’s ultimate collective endeavor. We only make progress together.


to whom it may concern

It has come to my attention that the level of my age
Is now set to fifty, with more movement on the gauge.
Who authorized this increase? Who consented to the change?
The alternative is worse, you say, but we’ve breached my chosen range.
I’ve searched my files for decades past and found most data gone.
Records labeled thirties, forties seem to be withdrawn.
Those phases passed much faster than I’d been led to understand;
I can’t recall what happened then or whether it was planned.
I’m writing to request a reset, please: thirty-five and hold it there.
Oh, and reset all my family, too; just me would be unfair.
Once I see the options back, and the meter’s restored to high,
I’ll retract the review I’ve given you–but I await your prompt reply.

Economics of Matching

A canonical problem in graph theory is that of matching – pairing people (or nodes) based on mutual preference. The classic example of this – framed, unfortunately, in a cis-heteronormative way – is known as the marriage problem. Assuming knowledge of the whole population, men have a ranked-order list of appropriate female partners and women similarly make a ranked-order list of appropriate male partners. The question then, is can we, as an all-knowing mathematician, make a matching in which no non-matched (opposite sex) pair would prefer to be with each other than with the partners they are matched with?

The mathematical solution to “stable marriage matching” is elegant, and worth at some point a post of its own. But for the moment, I was recently struck by the economic implications of this problem. That is, I had always considered it from the vantage point of the all-knowing observer, with the implicit understanding that such scope of vision is what makes the solution possible.

Roth’s 2008 article, What have we learned from market design?, brings a new perspective to the market failures that can result from the lack of such global coordination. Because it’s such an interesting story, I include below a long excerpt describing the history of today’s residency-matching program for medical school graduates:

The first job American doctors take after graduating from medical school is called a residency. These jobs are a big part of hospitals’ labor force, a critical part of physicians’ graduate education, and a substantial influence on their future careers. From 1900 to 1945, one way that hospitals competed for new residents was to try to hire residents earlier than other hospitals. This moved the date of appointment earlier, first slowly and then quickly, until by 1945 residents were sometimes being hired almost two years before they would graduate from medical school and begin work.

When I studied this in Roth (1984) it was the first market in which I had seen this kind of “unraveling” of appointment dates, but today we know that unraveling is a common and costly form of market failure. What we see when we study markets in the process of unraveling is that offers not only become increasingly early, but also become dispersed in time and of increasingly short duration. So not only are decisions being made early (before uncertainty is resolved about workers’ preferences or abilities), but also quickly, with applicants having to respond to offers before they can learn what other offers might be forthcoming. Efforts to prevent unraveling are venerable, for example Roth and Xing (1994) quote Salzman (1931) on laws in various English market from the 13th century concerning “forestalling” a market by transacting before goods could be offered in the market.

In 1945, American medical schools agreed not to release information about students before a specified date. This helped control the date of the market, but a new problem emerged: hospitals found that if some of the first offers they made were rejected after a period of deliberation, the candidates to whom they wished to make their next offers had often already accepted other positions. This led hospitals to make exploding offers to which candidates had to reply immediately, before they could learn what other offers might be available, and led to a chaotic market that shortened in duration from year to year, and resulted not only in missed agreements but also in broken ones. This kind of congestion also has since been seen in other markets, and in the extreme form it took in the American medical market by the late 1940’s, it also constitutes a form of market failure (cf. Roth and Xing 1997, and Avery, Jolls, Roth, and Posner 2007 for detailed accounts of congestion in labor markets in psychology and law). Faced with a market that was working very badly, the various American medical associations (of hospitals, students, and schools) agreed to employ a centralized clearinghouse to coordinate the market. After students had applied to residency programs and been interviewed, instead of having hospitals make individual offers to which students had to respond immediately, students and residency programs would instead be invited to submit rank order lists to indicate their preferences. That is, hospitals (residency programs) would rank the students they had interviewed, students would rank the hospitals (residency programs) they had interviewed, and a centralized clearinghouse — a matching mechanism — would be employed to produce a matching from the preference lists. Today this centralized clearinghouse is called the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).


Simon Denny: turning the NSA into art

(Waterville, ME) Last week I saw a display that is exemplary of Simon Denny’s work. Inside a case made of server racks and glass panes are three-dimensional versions of the NSA graphics displayed in the PowerPoint presentations that Edward Snowden leaked. For instance, a slide depicting military vehicles crossing barriers has been turned into a diorama made in part of hobbyist models. A slide showing “The 5 Team Dysfunctions” has been turned into a three-dimensional pyramid with levels labeled with phrases like “Lack of Accountability” and “Lack of Results.” For another installation that I didn’t see, Denny actually used a stuffed eagle that he bought from a taxidermist to illustrate the eagle on the NSA’s shield. Lights flicker on the servers. The whole object is neat, shiny, hermetic, and strange.

For the Venice Biennale, Denny’s NSA displays were exhibited in the Renaissance Library of St. Mark (the Biblioteca Marciana), which was originally a storehouse of global knowledge and information for what was then a great mercantile power. The Marciana has held–although not currently–the finest medieval world-map, the Fra Mauro Map (ca. 1450) which compiled intelligence from such emissaries as Marco Polo. Venice sent these feelers into the world and compiled their data for the benefit of her navy and traders.

Here is Denny’s work as displayed in Venice–one empire echoing another across the centuries. Those are portraits of philosophers on the walls, sources of wisdom that might be compared to the gnomic utterances in the NSA slides, such as “Role of the Team Member: Focusing on Collective Impact.”

I, however, saw the same display at MOMA, the high-rise museum in the heart of Manhattan’s Midtown that Rockefellers founded to collect the best art of the world for the most powerful commercial city of its time.

Like much conceptual art, this display poses questions. I value that function, although I also think the appropriate response to a question is an answer. So, standing before Denny’s display and thinking about my own responses, I believe I’d say: As an organization, the NSA resembles a large bureaucratic for-profit firm, at least in its internal rhetoric. Its rhetoric is banal. A highly self-conscious, polished, ironic representation of that banality is art.

ThE NSA collects lots of information without people’s permission. It is part of the United States government, which is owned by the American people. The Agency also affects people around the world. The people who own it and the people whom it affects have a right to understand how it works. Understanding it includes having some kind of grasp of its internal culture, including its banality.

Then again, it is probably both necessary and even valuable for a nation to spy, so long as its foreign policy is reasonably just. To spy in the modern world is going to require an organization that resembles a large bureaucratic for-profit firm, and running such an operation reasonably efficiently may require banal slogans. (I’m not sure about that.)

By the way, the original artist who created many of the NSA’s graphics is David Darchicourt. He gets an odd sort of billing in Denny’s subversive Art-World response. Fortunately, Darchicourt seems good-humored about the whole thing. Ryan Gallagher reports:

Now he is the unwitting central character in a new exhibition that puts the spotlight on the spy agency’s imagery. … He admits he finds it interesting to see his designs in the Renaissance setting. “It’s kind of flattering, but it’s also kind of creepy,” Darchicourt says, adding that he’s now considering deleting some pictures from his online portfolios to prevent them from being used by anyone else in the future. “Anything that has to do with the NSA will be removed; it’s old and I don’t really identify with that organization anymore.”

See also: on the moral peril of cliche; cultural mixing and power; on the deep state