At the Davenport Institute for Civic Engagement and Public Leadership at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, we’ve launched three blog sites relating to public participation in governance.

Gov 2.0 Watch” will keep abreast of developments relating to the field of Government 2.0 – how Internet, social media, smart phone applications and other twenty-first century technology affect the relationship between citizens and their governments. “Big Society Watch” will follow British Prime Minister Dave Cameron’s Big Society Program, a national-level civic engagement effort seeking to enlist greater public participation in service delivery. The “inCommon” blog will provide a more general overview of what is going on in the world of civic engagement.

Rather than extensive editorializing on the issues, the Gov 2.0 Watch (<>) and Big Society Watch (<>) blogs will re-post commentary from experts, observers and engaged citizens from all perspectives. The purpose is to provide a “one stop,” comprehensive resource to encouraged informed deliberation about and evaluation of these programs.

Government 2.0 refers to the way that local, state and national governments are utilizing new media to inform and engage their citizens. Of particular interest to the Davenport Institute is whether this is changing the way citizens view their role in government (especially local government) by creating new activities for citizen involvement or whether they are simply reinforcing old ideas of citizens as customers – merely facilitating the delivery of government services.

David Cameron’s Big Society Program also has interesting implications for the Davenport Institute as it seeks to help solve public problems by promoting citizen participation in government. Cameron offers an ambitious agenda to de-centralize services to the local level of government and supplement government service provision with citizen engagement activities. The successes and failures of the Big Society program offer an example for civic engagement advocates in the United States as they consider the appropriate scope, level, and approach to civic engagement.

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Ashley Trim, assistant editor of Front Porch Republic, grew up in rural Southern California (yes there is such a place) just outside the town limits of Pearblossom in a home designed and built by her father.  She studied Government at Patrick Henry College.  After receiving her BA, Ashley spent a year working in Washington, DC, before moving back to California to pursue her MPP at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.  There, she had the opportunity to work with Professors Gordon Lloyd and Ted McAllister on a variety of research projects with a strong emphasis on government theory and history. She graduated in April of 2009 and spent a year teaching in the public middle school back in her hometown.   In the few hours a day she spent with students, Ashley attempted to awaken interest in exploring foundational principles the system too often ignores.  Currently she is back at Pepperdine as Research Coordinator for the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership which seeks to support local-level governments in developing legitimate civic engagement processes for residents of the local community. Ashley’s childhood was shaped by road trips with her parents and siblings. Her father is a self-employed house painter, and her mother was a full-time home educator.  When Ashley was growing up, the family had several opportunities to pack the minivan with painting supplies and school books for months at a time while Dad worked on old houses in various parts of the country.  Such excursions furnished Ashley with an early sensitivity to and appreciation for the divergent and often eccentric communities that make up these United States.


  1. The appropriate scope of the citizen in his or her polity is wide indeed. However, citizenship is only truly effective when the machinations of government are kept to a nettlesome minimum and spring out of the actions of the citizens rather than raining down from on cockeyed high. Cameron’s initiatives are compelling but the American Revolution covered that ground some time ago. Funny how we must now look on in wonder at what we once had.

    Good luck at the Davenport Institute . When it drags this deranged government back into concentrating more on Broken Bow , Nebraska or the slums of Bridgeport , Ct. than it does the Hindu Kush, we might actually come back around the bend of foolishness.

  2. Excellent idea! All three blogs sound useful and timely. Speaking of the Big Society, one of its architects, Phillip Blond, will be in the States in late June–although only on the East Coast, I’m afraid (DC/Chicago/NYC this time around).
    We’re laying groundwork for ResPublica America–so we should be contributing some major blog traffic your way, Ashley.

  3. The Davenport Institute for Civic Engagement and Public Leadership at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy?
    Your business cards must be a billboard.

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