Social Media and Social Action (SMSA)

by Ellen Middaugh  (ChAD) & Mark Felton (TED)

Welcome! Our names are Ellen Middaugh (ChAD) and Mark Felton (TED). We have been collaborating to conduct research on how young adults use social media to learn about, discuss and act on social issues. Based on this work, we designed the course ChAD 156: Social Media & Youth Civic Engagement to teach undergraduate students about the role of social media in youth civic identity development as well as to teach them skills of being more thoughtful and informed users of social media for social action. 

This module provides and abbreviated overview of the topics addressed in that class through the lens of the issue of climate change. 

The learning objectives of this module are:

  1. Students will gain knowledge about the factors that support youth civic engagement and the role of social media in that process. 
  2. Students will critically reflect on their own use of social media for inquiry, dialogue and action. 
  3. Students will learn about and practice skills of inquiry (fact checking), dialogue, and action through social media. 

Instructors can use the entire module (recommended) or pick and choose topics and activities as relevant to the course. 


To complete this portion of the module, student will: 

  • Have students engage in the "Exploring climate change" activity. 
  • Have students engage in the activity, "Looking for patterns in how people talk about climate change on social media"


Readings and video to support this module include:  

  • World's Apart: A story of three possible worlds: [Linked Here]
  • TED Talk by Xiye Bastida, Climate Activist:  [Watch Here]
  • Readings on youth civic engagement and social media
      • Adler, R. & Goggin, J. (2005). What do we mean by civic engagement? Journal of Transformative Education, 3(3), 236-40. [Linked Here]
      • Soep, L. (2014). Participatory politics: Next generation tactics to remake public spheres. Cambridge: MIT Press., p. 1-3 & 9-14 [Linked Here] [pdf]
  • Slides used in the video lecture are available here.