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Co-Creating Democratic Youth Spaces

Ross VeLure Roholt, University of Minnesota
Michael Baizerman, University of Minnesota
Roudy W. Hildreth, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

How can we better organize and support youth in their contribution to public life? Ross VeLure Roholt, Michael Baizerman, and Roudy W. Hildreth have developed this book to help practitioners and educators who work with youth look at young people in a framework that is qualitatively different. This book explores the idea of youth not only as a developmental stage but also as having a purposeful social role within civic life.

This text presents co-creation as a form of direct youth work practice that invites youth to become actively involved in their communities as citizens, collaborating with youth workers to create and sustain safe spaces for civic engagement. The book’s contributors show how adults who work with youth can promote a democratic environment where youth can discuss, engage, and act on issues that matter to them. This book provides concrete case studies of civic youth workers and participating youth creating spaces for the civic and political development of young people in places that lack a social expectation of young people contributing to public life. From developing strategies for conflict reduction in Africa to mending the religious divide in Northern Ireland, the examples describe how to coordinate, support, and manage programs and initiatives with young people that can effect positive change on a global scale.


  • Powerful, expansive case studies drawn from real-life practice experiences
  • Substantive principles for collecting research data
  • Practice themes grounded in theory for curriculum use
  • Reflective questions for critical thinking at the end of each chapter


Click on any blue text to read a full PDF of the chapter!



1. Introduction: A Big Surprise?

Section 1: Civic Youth Workers

2. Critical Media Literacy in Action: Critical Media Literacy as Engaged Space in Urban Public Schools

3. Northern Ireland Museums as Sites of Youth Engagement

4. Creating Spaces for the Next Generation of Civil Rights in Mississippi: Youth Participation in the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition

5. Engaging Youth in the Evaluation Process

Section 2: Civic Youth Work Programs and Programming

6. School as a Site for Civic Youth Work Practices

7. Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild: Art, Mentorship, and Environment Shape a Culture of Learning and Engagement

8. Leading the Way: Young People Co-creating a Safe Driving Culture

Section 3: Policies Supporting and Challenging Civic Youth Work

9. Youth Civic Engagement in Korea: Past, Present, and Future

10. Engaging Youth to Transform Conflict: A Study of Youth and the Reduction of
War in Africa

11. Croatian Youth Corner: Youth Participation and Civic Education from Practitioners’ Eyes

Section 4: Developing Civic Youth Work

12. Teaching and Training Civic Youth Workers: Creating Spaces for Reciprocal Civic and Youth Development

13. Understanding Civic Youth Work: Touchstones for Practice




About the Editors

Ross VeLure Roholt (MSW, PhD, University of Minnesota) is associate professor of youth studies in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches courses on civic youth work. He is an active community-based participatory researcher and has completed several studies on youth work, civic youth work, and youth involvement in democratic and social development. He is active internationally, with long-term work in Northern Ireland, Laos, and Japan and shorter-term work in Morocco, Korea, the Netherlands, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Ireland.

Michael Baizerman (MSW, Columbia University; PhD, University of Pittsburgh) is professor of social work director of youth studies in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. He currently conducts research with students on behalf of municipal agencies and their youth services and is active internationally, with long-term work in Northern Ireland and Laos and shorter-term work in Korea and the Middle East.

R. W. Hildreth (PhD, University of Minnesota) is associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. His research interests include democratic theory, the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey, youth civic engagement, and transnational activism. He is currently working on a book about John Dewey, civic engagement, and the renewal of democratic life.

2013 paperback, 260 pages, ISBN 978-1-933478-84-5, $39.95