Best Wishes for A Happy New Year!

NCDD’s Staff wish you all a joyous and happy New Year! We know 2020 will be a busy year for all of us in the coalition, but we also know the work will be as important as ever. We’re committed to continuing to work with all of you to help spread the stories of how dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement can help our communities, nation, and world connect across differences and make decisions together.

We know the work will be at times challenging, and so NCDD is committed to helping this coalition continue to raise the visibility of this work for the benefit of us all. We will also continue to help connect members of this network, provide opportunities for learning and reflection, and share the latest news and information. In order to continue this work together, we continue to need your support. Help us finish out the year and our yearly fundraiser by making a donation today! We’ve raised close to $5,000 this season through donations and membership enrollments and renewals. Any amount is appreciated and goes directly to assisting our staff with supporting this network.

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Thank you for keeping NCDD vibrant for 17 years – we look forward to year 18!

With all our appreciation,

Courtney Breese – Executive Director
Keiva Hummel – Communications Coordinator
Joy Williams – Office Manager

2020 and beyond: 11 predictions at the intersection of technology and citizen engagement

pic by @jmuniz on Unsplah

The rapid evolution of digital technologies has been changing relationships between governments and citizens around the world.  These shifts make it the right time to pose the key question a new World Bank publication explores: 

Will digital technologies, both those that are already widespread and those that are still emerging, have substantial impacts on the way citizens engage and the ways in which power is sought, used, or contested?

The report, Emerging Digital Technologies and Citizen Participation, benefits from the insights of 30 leading scholars and practitioners, and explores what technology might mean for citizen engagement and politics in the coming years. 

The report argues that, regardless of lower technology penetration levels, and given more malleable governance contexts, developing countries may be more influenced by the effects of emerging technologies than older states with greater rigidity and legacy technologies. Digitally influenced citizen engagement is potentially a “leapfrog” area in which developing nations may exploit emerging technologies before the wealthier parts of the world.  

But countries can leapfrog to worse futures, not only better ones. The report also conveys concerns about the negative effects digital technologies can have on the governance of nations. Yet, despite emerging challenges, it contends that new and better citizen engagement approaches are possible. 

What is missing from public discourse is a discussion of the wide range of options that citizens and decision-makers can call upon to enhance their interactions and manage risks. To consider these options, the report makes 11 predictions regarding the effects of technology on citizen engagement in the coming years, and their policy implications. It also offers six measures that would be prudent for governments to take to mitigate risks and leverage opportunities that technological development brings about. 

None of the positive scenarios predicted will emerge without deliberate and intentional actions to support them. And the extent to which they can be shaped to further societal goals will depend on constructive dialogue between governments and citizens themselves. Ultimately, this new publication aims to contribute to this dialogue, so that both developing and developed countries are more likely to leap into better futures. 


Text co-authored with Tom Steinberg, originally cross-posted from the World Bank’s Governance for Development blog. You can also read another article about this report in Apolitical here. While I’m at it: if you work in public service and care about making government work better, I highly recommend Apolitical, a peer-to-peer learning platform for government, sharing smart ideas in policy globally. Join for free here .

The Funky Beauty of the Park Slope Food Co-op

In the nearly 50 years since the Park Slope Food Co-op Brooklyn opened, it has become both legendary and taken-for-granted. People seem to forget that its success was based on heroic struggle and lots of difficult internal commoning. Many outsiders see a gilded precinct of New York City filled with affluent professionals, not realizing that the Co-op arose from within a funky neighborhood of ordinary people who wanted high-quality, affordable, responsibly produced groceries. And indeed, most of its members are still ordinary, middle-class New Yorkers.

A lengthy piece in The New Yorker magazine (November 25 issue) captures the complicated and colorful history of the Co-op magnificently. “The Grocery Store Where Produce Meets Politics,” by Alexandra Schwartz, dives deeply into the inner life of the Co-op and the people who both venerate it and condescend to it. The Park Slope Food Co-op is a landmark achievement of what can be achieved through commoning in a co-operative organizational structure. 

The Co-op's most salient achievement may be its sheer scale. It has more than 17,000 members and annual sales revenues of $58.3 million. Yet it is still run as a participatory, democratically managed operation whose members actively care about eco-friendly agriculture and socially minded practices.

Unlike many co-ops that regard themselves as quasi-corporations competing in the market, perhaps with a nod to social concern, the Park Slope Food Co-op remains unabashedly committed to functioning as a commons. It is a self-help collective, as one of its leaders put it, not a do-gooder project.

In her early encounters with the Co-op, journalist Alexandra Schwartz found it “to be claustrophobically crowded, illogically organized, and almost absurdly inconvenient. In other words, it was love at first sight. Suddenly, on my editorial assistant’s salary, I was eating like an editor-in-chief.” The Co-op is not a sleek, modernist Whole Foods store with precious upscale touches. It’s a place where you can get fantastically fresh local produce, inexpensive cheese, and high-quality expeller-pressed cooking oils. Prices are generally 15% to 50% less than those of a conventional grocery store. 

While popular commercial grocery stores like Trader Joe’s make impressive sales of about $2,500 per square foot of retail space, the Park Slope Food Co-op rakes in an astonishing $10,000 per square foot," Schwartz reports. 

But such things are not being driven by market forces; they arise and flourish through group cooperation. Everyone needs to have some skin in the game and abide by the Co-op's rules. One of the most important rules is the requirement that everyone work two hours and forty-five minutes every four weeks. This rule is strictly enforced. If you miss your shift, you have to make it up by working two compensatory shifts. Fall behind too much in your work obligations, and your Co-op privileges may be revoked.

In other words, the Co-op is not just a financial collective that you buy into. It is a personal commitment that you have to take seriously.  You have to commit your personal time and energies to the everyday operation of the Co-op by unloading delivery trucks, cutting up cheese into chunks, cleaning floors and toilets, working the cash register, and taking care of kids in the free child-care room, and so on.

It’s the unpaid, decommodified labor of thousands of members that enables the Co-op to function so well:  “The place runs on sweat equity: your blood for bread, your labor for lox,” as The New Yorker puts it. The system works because people are not "customers" who have simply bought an equity stake in a company. They are “member-workers” or “shoppers” who personally manage the place (with the help of 70 paid employees).

The Co-op represents what Silke Helfrich and I call “relationalized property” – a “resource” that is not just a hunk of capital designed to produce profit, but a social collective whose personal and social lives are intertwined with the asset.  The Co-op is as much a cultural experience as an economic bargain. People shop in a crowded, no-nonsense space filled with every kind of New Yorker imaginable. They understand the messy complications of peer governance and provisioning.

Schwartz writes: “In the age of one-click delivery, it can seem antediluvian to trudge home with brutally heavy sacks dangling from your shoulders. Still, there’s a comfort to bumping up against other humans around food. That’s what grocery shopping used to be, before supermarkets: a social, neighborly time, much like the meal to follow.” The Co-op experience remains so appealing that many people who have moved to Connecticut or upstate New York continue to come to Brooklyn once a month to shop. 

To be sure, many Co-op members find the political debates about food off-putting:  Should plastic bags for produce be eliminated? Should foods with certain additives be barred from the shelves? Should the Co-op support a move by some paid “coordinators” (employees) to form a union? 

The New York Times has gleefully covered such issues, treating the Co-op “like a rogue nation-state,” writes Schwartz. There are complaints that Co-op membership is “a user-friendly way of experiencing the pitfalls of communism….There can be a mania for fetishistic rule-following in the name of fairness, with citizen’s arrest-style confrontations that feel more kindergarten bully than protector of the peace.”

Annoying as some of these controversies may be, the Co-op has attracted and kept so many dedicated members precisely because it doesn't have the gleaning, sterile aisles and incessant marketing of conventional supermarkets. It is willing to engage with the messy and endearing propensities of real human beings. Schwartz writes that the Co-op’s “small-scale errors and outcries and inefficiencies make the place feel organic, in the non-U.S.D.A.-regulated sense of the word: funky around the edges, humanly fermented, alive.”  

Which is why it is still a thriving, beloved place after all these years.

Florida Council for the Social Studies Sponsored Resolutions Passed at National Conference

Are you a social studies teacher in Florida? If so, please consider joining us in your state council, and connect with a thousand other social studies across the state. Your state council does a great many things, but it also works to stay connected to the national social studies conversation, and it is active in the National Council for the Social Studies’ House of Delegates. (And you should join NCSS too!).

HoD Members

FCSS House of Delegates Members Steve Masyada, Cherie Arnette, and Jennifer Jolley

During the House of Delegates session, resolutions drafted and sponsored by the Florida Council passed on a straight voice vote. These two resolutions address issues of concern in our field and, we hope, may make some level of difference in the state and national conversation.

Resolution 02-01
Supporting Social and Emotional Learning in School

This resolution addresses the recent research in both civics education and in the broader field on ensuring that students have access to the curriculum, tools, and resources they need to address their social and emotional learning.


Association of Teachers of Social Studies/United Federation of Teachers- New York City 

College and University Faculty Assembly

Early Childhood and Elementary Education Community

Georgia Council for the Social Studies

Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies 

Nebraska State Council for Social Studies

Oregon Council for the Social Studies


Research, surveys, and recent developments in Florida and other states suggest that increasingly, students need stronger supports in school in the area of social and emotional learning (SEL). The pressures students face within schools and the broader community are significant, and we must  ensure that they are provided the opportunity to become knowledgeable, responsible, caring members of their communities. Understanding risks, thinking critically, developing empathy, and knowing how to engage in self-care can help students deal with the obstacles to success they face on a day to day basis (1);    

WHEREAS; “Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions,” (2); and 

WHEREAS; Florida has recently joined other states in requiring schools to spend time addressing student mental health; and 

WHEREAS; that required time is often less than a full day of school over the course of the year; and 

WHEREAS; research by Levine and Kawashima-Ginsberg (2017) suggests that social and emotional learning should be a significant component of a strong civics program that produces ‘more ethical and effective citizens’; and

WHEREAS; research within the field of social and emotional learning suggests that supporting students in their social and emotional learning by giving them the tools to address their own mental and emotional health, fostering a school culture and climate that allows students to develop empathetic relationships that help them feel both safe and loved, and  providing them the opportunity to practice necessary decision-making skills all comprise elements of a strong SEL program; and 

WHEREAS; integration of an effective SEL program requires integration into the broader school curriculum and culture rather than a stand alone approach that provides less than a full school day of learning; and 

WHEREAS; the National Council for the Social Studies has itself suggested the importance of social and emotional learning, especially for elementary students within the social studies; now

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED; that NCSS should advocate for every state to enact and enforce expectations for an integrated approach to social and emotional learning that draws on the most current research in SEL across all grade levels, so that students are given the opportunity to grow as both participants in civic life and as human beings. We also call for NCSS to develop a guide for teachers seeking to integrate elements of SEL into their own social studies curriculum, addressing the question of how we might align social and emotional learning with our content and our pedagogy.  


  1. Elias, M. J., Zins, J.E., Weissberg, R.P., Frey, K.S., Greenberg, M.T., Haynes, N.M., Kessler, R., Schwab-Stone, M.E., & Shriver, T.P. (1997). Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
  2. From Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) (2019). Overview of SEL. Retrieved 14 Aug 19 from"

Resolution 04-04
Protecting Student Journalism Against Censorship and Retaliation 

This resolution is of a piece with similiar resolutions passed by other educational organizations across the country. It reflects the importance of democratic practices and opportunities for engaged learning on the part of students, while also encouraging the modeling of democratic principles of behavior when it comes to conceptions of press freedom and student rights. It also encourages us to think upon the legal framework surrounding student free press rights.


Association of Teachers of Social Studies/United Federation of Teachers- New York CIty 

College and University Faculty Assembly

Georgia Council for the Social Studies

Human Rights Education Community

Nebraska State Council for Social Studies

Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies

Oregon Council for the Social Studies


Elements of inquiry are increasingly a heavy focus of social studies pedagogy and curricular approaches, and allow for students to engage in the practices of civic life and civic literacy as they gain experience with questioning, disciplinary literacy, research, and informed action, with varying degrees of integration into traditional social studies instruction. Student journalism, which may fall under the auspices of both social studies and language arts, is one area of education that aligns well with these demands of inquiry, and is widely recognized as the gateway to participatory civics. Students working on school-sponsored news media learn irreplaceable civic skills, including evaluating the credibility of information sources, understanding and explaining the workings of government agencies, and gathering facts to support persuasive arguments about issues of social and political concern (1). Indeed, the national C3 Framework, with an inherent expectation of media literacy within the context of inquiry, encourages student voice and choice in the pursuit of civic knowledge and practice. Students are able to do their best journalistic work only in a climate that encourages them to grapple with challenging issues free from fear that they, or their journalism teachers, will face retaliation for unflattering news coverage.   

WHEREAS, consuming and creating news about current events is recognized as a foundational part of an effective civics education; and

WHEREAS, school-sponsored journalistic media provides students with a uniquely effective vehicle to learn and share information about the workings of government; and 

WHEREAS, with the estimated loss of 33,000 jobs at newspapers across America since 2008 (2), student media increasingly serves as the “information lifeline” supplying school news to the entire community (3); and

WHEREAS, students widely report that they are intimidated from using journalistic media to discuss contemporary social and political issues, including one 2016 university-led survey in which 53 percent of female high-school student journalists and 27 percent of male student journalists said they had refrained from writing about a topic important to them, because they feared adverse reaction from school authorities (4); and

WHEREAS, in its 1988 opinion, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (5), the U.S. Supreme Court established a minimal threshold for freedom of the student press, which over time has proven to be an educationally unsound level of institutional control, irreconcilable with the effective teaching of foundational constitutional principles and values, and has consistently faced encroachment by districts, schools, and even the courts themselves (6); and

WHEREAS, fourteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws extending a modest degree of legally protected press freedom to student journalists above-and-beyond that provided by the Hazelwood decision (7), leaving undisturbed a school’s legitimate authority to withhold material that is dangerous, unlawful, or likely to incite a disruption; and

WHEREAS, strong civic education demands students have the opportunity to practice the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in the pursuit of inquiry; and

WHEREAS, students learn regard for First Amendment principles not just from textbooks and lectures, but from observing first-hand whether fundamental constitutional liberties are valued, respected and practiced by the governmental authority figures in their everyday lives (8); and

WHEREAS, a broad array of civic and educational organizations that value both civic learning and student rights, have called for strengthening the legal protections for student journalists at this time of critical need for civic literacy, including the American Bar Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, the American Society of News Editors, and many others (9); now

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: that NCSS should promote and advocate for laws fortifying the protection of student journalism, so students are guaranteed the freedom to distribute the lawful, non-disruptive editorial content of their choice in school-sponsored journalistic media; students and educators are protected against retaliation for journalistic work that provokes disagreement, challenges majoritarian views, or exposes shortcomings in institutional policies and practices; and administrators, teachers, and students should be educated about the rights and responsibilities of journalists in American society.


  1. Ed Madison, How a journalism class is teaching middle schoolers to fight fake news, THE CONVERSATION (June 5, 2017).
  2. Elizabeth Grieco, U.S. newsroom employment has dropped by a quarter since 2008, with greatest decline at newspapers, PEW RESEARCH CENTER (July 9, 2019).
  3. Frank LoMonte, A free press shouldn’t stop at the schoolyard, CNN.COM (Nov. 29, 2017).
  4. Piotr S. Bobkowski & Genelle I .Belmas, Mixed Message Media: Girls’ Voices and Civic Engagement in Student Journalism, GIRLHOOD STUDIES, Vol. 10 at 89-106 (Mar. 2017).
  5. 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
  6. Dan Kozlowski, “Unchecked Deference: Hazelwood’s Too Broad and Too Loose Application in the Circuit Courts”, Journal of Media Law & Ethics
  7. Jennifer Karchmer, Student press freedom laws gain momentum, QUILL (Apr. 16, 2018).
  8. University of Kansas researchers have documented a positive correlation between practicing high school journalism in a school where First Amendment values are respected and students’ sense of “civic efficacy,” defined as their belief that they can use their voices to have an impact on social and political issues. The findings are summarized at

Copies of the endorsement resolutions of the ABA, NCTE and ASNE are available on the website of the Student Press Law Center at

These resolutions, and others adopted on voice vote by the NCSS House of Delegates must still get final approval from the NCSS Board of Directors in the spring.

FCSS sees these resolutions as an opportunity to speak with the voice of our teachers, and to encourage the direction of the national conversation within social studies.

If you have an idea for a resolution you would like to see drafted and submitted, please feel free to contact FCSS Legislative Chair,Dr. Steve Masyada, to see about making it happen!

Encouraging Civic Literacy in Florida

Civic literacy has long been a concern nationally, and here in Florida, we have worked hard to give our middle school students a strong foundation in civic education. Indeed, 71% of all middle school students scored a 3 or better on the state civic assessment last year. 

state 2019 assessment

That being said, we know that we can always do more. Recently, Florida Governor DeSantis stated that the state would begin assessing the civic literacy of high school students to determine where we stand with that cohort of future citizens. Are there areas of weakness that need to be addressed? This is what the governor’s effort is intended to address.

At this point, implementation of the governor’s desire is being worked out by the experts in Tallahassee. It is likely that students that pass this now-required measure in high school will meet the state’s recently-established college civic literacy assessment, however.

Please be aware that as of now, passage of this yet-to-be-implemented exam will NOT be required for high school graduation or used in teacher evaluations or school grades. It is simply to see where we stand. 

Be sure to watch this space for more information on this new expectation. The Lou Frey Institute will be providing news, information, and resources concerning this new assessment as it is rolled out across the state. We look forward to supporting the governor, and FLDOE, in its efforts and working with teachers across the state in ensuring that Florida continues to lead the nation in civic education and learning!

You can read more about the governor’s civics effort in the Tampa Bay Times and in the Orlando Sentinel.

job openings in youth civic engagement

This is the latest in an occasional series …

CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & engagement here at Tisch College) is searching for a Project Manager. They are looking for someone with advanced project management skills (and ideally a project management certificate) and a commitment to equality, but no prior knowledge of civic engagement is required.

The nascent Center for Equity on Health, Wealth, and Civic Engagement at Tufts University (whose Principal Investigators are Jennifer Allen, Thomas Stopka and I), seeks a part-time Program Coordinator. Our long-term goal is to build a durable center for the study of equity that integrates research from across Tufts, attracts external funds for ambitious projects, generates groundbreaking research, affects the national and global understanding of equity, and offers educational opportunities for Tufts students and others. This work is distinctive in its interdisciplinary breadth, its focus on equity as an ideal rather than inequality as a narrowly defined problem, and its connection to policy, practice and public discussion. We seek a part-time Program Coordinator to oversee implementation of study plans and who will be a key liaison between faculty members, students, and community stakeholders. Under the supervision of the Principal Investigators, the Program Coordinator will coordinate all center activities. Contact me for more information.

Tisch College seeks a VISTA Campus Recruiter— a part-time position recruiting for national service opportunities in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The Recruiter will primarily focus on AmeriCorps VISTA. The Recruiter will create and enact a comprehensive work plan that presents VISTA service opportunities to students at Tufts University. To apply or for more information please contact Sherri Sklarwitz ( by December 20th. Please include the job title (VISTA Campus Recruiter) in the subject line.

Discovering Justice seeks a new Executive Director. Each year, Discovering Justice works with K-8 students and teachers in more than 19 districts across Massachusetts. Discovering Justice provides teachers with civics curriculum, training, and professional development, and also offers experiential field trips and after school programs all designed to provide young people with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to participate in democracy and extend civic learning into their own neighborhoods and communities.

The  American Academy of Arts & Sciences program on Society and the Public Good seeks a program officer.

political reform in Massachusetts

This is the video of me presenting our study entitled MassForward: Advancing Democratic Innovation and Electoral Reform in Massachusetts at the Boston Foundation in November, with discussion by Jay Kaufman, a former state representative and Founder and President of the Beacon Leadership Collaborative; Beth Lindstrom, former Executive Director of the Massachusetts Republican Party; Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson, Interim Director of the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy at UMass Boston; and Pavel Payano, an at-large city councilor in Lawrence.

The report was covered in MassLive WGBH , WBUR CommonWealth NEPR WPRI SouthCoast Today, and The Salem News (an editorial) 

Setting Our Sights on 2020

As 2019 draws to a close, the NCDD staff and board are setting our sights on the year ahead and making plans for what we would like to do together in 2020. Suffice it to say 2020 will be an important year for our country and our world. It will be a year where dialogue & deliberation are even more essential to helping people and communities build connections, increase understanding, and reach decisions together. This may feel like a real challenge for the public in the year ahead, but we all know the benefits of quality dialogue and NCDD will work hard to help share this message.

Keiva &Courtney believe what you do matters!

We will help spread the word about the work you all do every day, the impact that work has, and how more people can bring these tools to their communities. We will work with our network to teach more people to convene conversations. We will support our collective work through opportunities for shared learning and collaboration. And we will continue to look for the next steps we can take to advance our field together.

We, of course, can’t do this without all of you. NCDD is a coalition, and we are only as strong as our network. Our staff is made up of only three – myself, Joy, and Keiva, and we all work part-time. We continue to do this work because we are passionate about the potential that dialogue & deliberation offers our world, and know that this network harnesses the knowledge and skills to help see that potential achieved. With your help, we will get there.

Therefore, today we are launching our annual end-of-year fund drive. Our hope is to raise $10,000 before January 1 in order to support NCDD’s goals for 2020. On Giving Tuesday we were able to raise $1,400 to start this drive off, and we would love to raise double this amount in the next few days. Can you help us? If you believe in NCDD’s mission and find value in the resources, connections, and opportunities we provide, we urge you to show your support by making a donation. All contributions are welcome, whether they are $5 or $500. And your contributions are tax deductible! Please share the fund drive with your networks and consider asking your favorite angel donor to contribute as well. Help us reach our $10,000 goal, and thank you so much, in advance, for supporting NCDD!

education and political party support in the UK

A common pattern in the 21st century involves much of the working class shifting from a broad center-left political party toward the right.

One way to measure class is by educational attainment. In Germany, the Social Democrats have lost much of the working class to the right, and the highly educated professions have migrated to the Greens. In the US, where third parties have a much harder time, highly educated people are unlikely to exit the two big parties. Instead, they use their effective voices to dominate at least one party. Recently, the most educated groups have voted Democratic. At one point during the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton led college-educated whites by 5 points, but she trailed Trump among whites who don’t have college degrees by 39 points: 62% to 23%. Democrats would be in big trouble except that race is at least as important as class in the USA, and people of color of all educational backgrounds also tend to vote for Democrats.

What about the UK? Much has been written about the demographics of voters in the recent British elections, but I also like a time-series from the European Social Survey that asks which party people feel “closest” to. This question is asked regularly in even years. It gives you a trend that’s less tied to candidates and specific campaigns.

Above, I show support for Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats for six educational strata, from less than secondary education to doctoral degrees or the equivalent. The education question changed in 2010, so I have done my best to keep the categories consistent.

In 2002, Labour’s support correlated negatively with education; the Tories did better with people with more education. The Liberals were far behind but drew best from people with university degrees (teachers and other “knowledge workers,” I would guess).

Fr0m 2004-2008, that pattern continued, with the very important change that the Liberals battled Labour for the support of the most educated, who oscillated between those two parties.

In 2012, the classic pattern recurred, with Labour receiving smoothly declining support with educational levels. In 2014 and 2016, Labour did much better with the best educated. In 2018, the most educated voters essentially shifted to the Liberals.

Based on what we know from constituencies’ demographics, it seems that since 2018, many working class English voters switched from Labour to the Tories or stayed home.

Brexit: a personal reflection

(Fremont, CA) I’m saddened by Brexit for personal reasons that I’ll relate below. But first I should offer three caveats.

First, Brexit is not about me. It will affect the residents of the UK and EU; my feelings don’t really matter.

Second, the “remain” side is not self-evidently right, either ethically or practically. There are democratic arguments in favor of withdrawing from the EU. “Leavers” are not simply bigoted or victimized by propaganda. Both of the biggest parties have been divided by the issue. The EU has served some Britons better than others.

And third, the UK election is about much more than Brexit. Austerity is the main policy that has won.

Having said all that, I’ve had a deep, lifelong commitment to European integration–and to a Europe that has Britain in it. My family spent almost half of my first 15 years in London. My primary school, Prior Weston, was situated immediately next to a weedy lot that was still empty because of the bombs of 1940. That was a powerful reminder of the cost of European division.

Britain had entered the European Economic Community by then, and my Christian-Socialist-oriented state primary school embraced the ideal of the EEC. We studied the culture of each EEC member country in turn. I recall the teachers making some prejudiced remarks. Germans ostensibly had no sense of humor, for example. (This is false.) But the overall message was one of interconnection and shared fate.

London was a global city, anyway–a great entrepot. We knew many, many immigrants. The largest share had come from former colonies in the Global South, but many were Europeans. What made London great was its cosmopolitanism, and that has been true since the medieval days of Lombard bankers and Flemish weavers.

When I was a young teenager, now attending a much more conservative independent secondary school, most of my English friends would have denied that they were European. The continent was a foreign place to them, and basically inferior, in their eyes. My English friends would have identified more with the global Anglophone sphere created by British imperialism, and especially with the white-majority countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

But I wasn’t British, or European–I was an American in London. And from my perspective, the UK clearly belonged to Europe. Although the little islands had been spared from invasion since 1066 because of a narrow strait, they had participated in all the cultural, economic, diplomatic, technological, sociological and even biophysical developments of the continent as a whole. Even then, I thought it was basically ignorant to distinguish between Britain and Europe.

Years later, sitting by a summer ice cream stand outside of Oslo and watching school children on a field trip, I felt palpably how much the whole scene resembled my childhood in London: the ice cream novelties, the buildings and the park’s layout, the way the kids interacted. If you travel from London to, say, Tuscany, you have changed your milieu. But from London to Oslo or Rotterdam is no distance, culturally.

To build one Europe has always seemed to me a humane and creative project (even though we should acknowledge the barriers around the EU’s perimeter and the often technocratic tendencies in Brussels). Britain–and specifically, England–belongs in the project. It has been more open, more sophisticated, and more humane because it’s been part of “Europe.” And it has shared its own worthy ideals with its European partners.

After today, the EU will go on, but it will be somewhat worse without Britain in it. It’s also hard to imagine the United Kingdom staying united for long. I find this very sad.