BLOGGERMajoring in International Studies with minors in Political Science, Non-Violence Studies, and French, Rachel Stanley is a junior at Elon University in North Carolina who comes from Snellville,...
Where do young people come down on questions of faith, values, and public life? How do they relate their values to public policy issues including education, economic inequality, and the environment? These questions, critically important for the 2012 election, are at the center of a campus conversation being organized by the Berkley Center and Georgetown University. This blog features an ongoing conversation about these issues between students selected as Millennial Values Fellows through a national competition. You can read and comment on their blogs here.
To learn more about the project, visit the Campus Conversation on Values page.
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AT THE CENTER
RELATED RESOURCES: DEMOCRACY
Rachel Stanley (Elon) on Millennials, Values, and America's Future
April 12, 2012
Some of my fellow Millennial Values Conference attendees have pondered this same question. Abigail Clauhs does seem to think that our generation is unique, compared to past generations. But she makes an important distinction, one that I think is very significant. While this generation of young Americans is distinct from past American generations, we are not so distinct from the young people around the world today. Yes, American Millennials uniquely witnessed 9/11 as an attack on our country, and as she points out, have “the 90’s legacy of the Backstreet Boys and Furbies”, but we have many things in common with our compatriots around the world.
Perhaps this unifying thread is the Information Age. Millennials in America grew up seeing the advent of a huge range of technologies, from computers and cell phones to DVR recorders and social media. Our peers in other countries may not have had an identical experience, but that does not mean that they have not been impacted by the Information Age and are not facing the world and its challenges much as we are. As Brian Goldman pointed out, our generation has an unprecedented level of access to information. Maybe Millennials of other nations don’t have the same access to technology that we do, but this new technology still plays a huge role in the life of the Millennial generation in general. Occupy Wall Street has been showing America what organized, communicative (often young) people can do, but where did the spark for such a movement come from? From Tunisia. From Egypt. From across the world, from places with much less access to technology than we have. These Millennials reached out and woke the world up to their concerns, using technology.
Our generation still has a long way to go. We aren’t going anywhere any time soon. We’re not going to let the world forget that we’re special, we’re connected, and we’re curious.
Abigail Clauhs (Boston University) comments on Rachel Stanley April 12, 2012
Rachel, I love that you end with saying "we're special, we're connected, and we're curious." I think that element of connectivity that you write about is especially important. We are indeed a global generation, united across borders through technology. As you say, Millennials here have been inspired by the movements of youth in Tunisia, in Egypt. We are able to see them as peers who hold their own passions and opinions, just as we do. We have seen a couple blog posts on here critiquing—rightfully, I feel—"armchair activism," but I think you touch on another one of the most important aspects of technology: the way it humanizes people that are different from us, far from us. Being connected to distant Millennials through Twitter and Facebook and the internet allows us to better understand them, and see the commonalities between us all.
Jelani Harvey (Columbia) comments on Rachel Stanley April 13, 2012
Hi Rachel, I wanted to touch on your point that “we are not so distinct from the young people around the world today.” I think this stems from a point many bloggers have mentioned in regards to our wealth of knowledge through the internet. We are more educated than our parents in regards to the struggles of other people across the world, and are eager to help those we can. We are also eager to study abroad and learn about civilizations, lowercase “c,” because we are aware that non-Western cultures are just as valid to our world community as Western ones. Young people across the world today do seem to value multiculturalism, as Aamir says, more than previous generations because the technology boom of the past two decades has enabled our world to be more interconnected. This interconnectivity has shown us that we must all work together to fight for a better tomorrow.
Emily Atkinson (Smith) comments on Rachel Stanley April 14, 2012
I completely agree, Rachel (and Abigail, and Jelani!) about the importance of our connectedness. I really think that knowing individuals of different religious, national, and political groups is key to preventing group violence. It stops stereotyping. It expands our in-group, makes us more inclusive and caring, increases our empathy-- all very important in decreasing the potential for violence. I do worry though about how our very connected, global generation might respond if the economic situation worldwide doesn't turn around. Lack of employment and resources to start families make young people disconnected and that increases the risk of violence, and if we, the biggest generation since the "don't trust anyone over 30" boomers, decide to change things-- we could do a lot of good. But we could also do a lot of damage. Even armchair activism has power-- remember Kony 2012? We need to be careful of how we use that power.