Boston Area Social Network Project
UMass Boston partnered with CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) and the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University on a project using social media to increase and deepen youth civic engagement.
This three-year project, now concluded, was funded by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. It was administered by NERCHE and coordinated by a leadership team of students in Asian American Studies, along with faculty members Peter Kiang (Asian American Studies and Education), Shirley Tang (Asian American Studies and American Studies), and Sam Museus (Higher Education Doctoral Program).
Through the project, Asian American Studies offered courses employing a community-based curriculum and community-mapping software to analyze community issues and networks.
The project employed specially designed software called YouthMap for use in community-based courses in which students enter information about issues, public problems, community assets, and local organizations. YouthMap is then integrated with popular social networking tools such as Facebook and MySpace. As a "Web 2.0" social networking platform for college students (and others), it has several important layers:
- a personal social network layer that will connect to available online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn;
- a collaboration layer that will enable students to work together on campus, across campuses, and between campus and community;
- a gaming layer that will encourage friendly team-building and competition; and,
- a community network layer built on Youth Map and Community Knowledgebase software, to help students represent and visualize local issues and community networks as service opportunities.