Inaugural OpenCitizen Gathering accepting applications through Aug. 31

Arizona State University’s Interplanetary Initiative and Learning Enterprise, in collaboration with the Zuckerberg Institute and Beagle Learning, have launched an ambitious new approach for engaging learners, employees and community partners in addressing community-based problems that matter to them.

The approach is called OpenCitizen, a program that follows a proprietary inquiry process to identify and research local community needs and develop innovative and actionable plans to address them.

“For master learners, the OpenCitizen project provides guidance and a process for any person or any team to pursue the topic, problem or issue of their choice,” said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, vice president of ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative. “Want to learn how to build a robot? Want to take action on a social problem? Gather your team, and we're ready.”

OpenCitizen is a unique program opportunity that launches Nov. 12, 2021, with the OpenCitizen Gathering, a curated event hosted at Arcosanti, Arizona.

Nicknamed, “The Urban Laboratory,” Arcosanti is an environmentally conscious retreat developed in 1970 as an experimental town in Arizona’s high desert, 70 miles north of Phoenix. The weekendlong event will feature thematic tracks on diversity, equity and inclusion, the future of learning, the environment and climate change. 

“We can all recognize when there's a problem, but few of us have the training and confidence to jump in and make change, and even fewer of us know how to do that in the most effective way,” Elkins-Tanton said. “With OpenCitizen, we are offering a process, a scaffold, for any group — a team, a class, a neighborhood — to pursue the topic of their own choosing. Learn how to learn, and then, learn how to do! We're looking for anyone wanting to turn their ideas into actions.”

With a goal of uniting and celebrating passionate changemakers who are committed to taking positive action in their communities, OpenCitizen participants will experience a highly collaborative series of workshop sessions. These sessions are designed to introduce open-inquiry processes, learner-centered pedagogies and strategies for how teams can move from inquiry to action. Interested participants may apply to attend the event through an application process, which is open through Aug. 31.

It’s anticipated the OpenCitizen Gathering will include community and business leaders, innovators, educators, students and lifelong learners interested in tackling issues in three thematic tracks, including diversity, equity and inclusion, the future of learning, and the environment and climate change.

ASU’s Learning Enterprise will offer badging, certification and ASU credit, and Interplanetary Initiative and Beagle Learning will create and administer the process. The event’s registration fee covers entry, two-night accommodations and six meals throughout the weekend. Needs-based scholarships are available.

Space is limited for this exclusive event. To learn more, or to join a community of passionate change-makers who are committed to taking positive action in their communities, visit opencitizenproject.org or email info@opencitizenproject.org

Lisa McQuerrey
lmcquer1@asu.edu