Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Benjamin Kirshner

Second Advisor

William Penuel

Third Advisor

Kris Gutiérrez

Fourth Advisor

Margaret Eisenhart

Fifth Advisor

David Boromisza-Habashi


There is much room for improvement in the opportunities afforded to young people to learn through becoming active civic and political participants (Campbell, Levinson & Hess, 2012). In addition to calls for a “new civics” ( or “action civics” ( approach to organizing for learning in this domain, scholars have identified promising trends in out-of -school spaces, such as “participatory politics” (Kahne, Middaugh & Allen 2014) “participatory culture civics” (Kligler & Shresthova 2012) and “connected civics” (Ito et al, 2015) that address the current need for more engaging civic learning opportunities. Within this field, there are lingering questions about how program directors and educators can best design work to organize opportunities for civic learning. This study follows 15 high-school-age creative interns as they collaborated with a professional artist to complete a public mural for the city. In planning meetings interns conducted background research on the neighborhood, deliberated findings of the research as a group with the lead artist guiding discussion and tried artistic work such as sketching and collaging to represent the concerns that were being pondered. An analysis of the social organization of endeavors (Rogoff, 2014) throughout this project showed how learning opportunities varied between times when the group worked in a flexible ensemble and times where adults directed the pace and ideas through storytelling. The narratives told to interns during this project played a socializing role (Ochs, 1997, 2004), encouraging a critical stance towards artistic work and active stance towards civic issues. Neighborhood residents and artists were powerful civic educators, and the analysis of this project contained examples with utility for the design of similar opportunities, such as organizing occasions for stories to emerge.