Welcome to the blog series Civic Mind, which focuses on unpacking the American political system to help citizens become better informed and more deliberative in their roles as participants in the political system.  The goal of this series, one of three that this blog will launch this year, is to unpack events, processes, and policies so that people can be in a stronger position to evaluate them.  Doing so can help us better understand the impact that they have on our lives and empower us to engage in the system in more valuable ways.

One resource that I have found particularly helpful in thinking about what helps us be more evaluative rather than emotional in our political interactions is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.  A psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics (2002), Kahneman is most known for his work distinguishing between what he calls System 1 (impulsive) and System 2 (deliberative) thinking.  As he explains in this short interview segment, using System 2 is more likely to produce outcomes with which we are satisfied because it lessens the chance of errors that come from us acting on impulse – whether in our personal circumstances or as we work together in larger groups.   Casting votes as citizens and making collective decisions in policy certainly fall into the latter category.

In today’s online environment, we have a quandary– we have access to a raft of information, but not all of it will help us become more careful consumers of it.  In other words, just because we can “Google it” does not mean that a search result is credible.  I will share more tips on effectively navigating online resources in some future posts.  As a starting point, my librarian colleague Michael Rice and I have curated a manageable list of sources produced by nonpartisan and mostly non-profit organizations, who also share a goal of helping the public to access educational resources.  We have placed it as a library guide within the college library’s webpages so that it is more broadly available for access.  This blog series will periodically highlight sources as they are relevant to the focus of a given post.

The first full post of this series will discuss the foundations of democracy, as a way for us to consider our roles as citizens within this system.  The series will post monthly, with special additional content available.


Profile ThumbAbout the Civic Mind blogger (Dr. Robin Lauermann):  I currently serve as a Professor of Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, which hosts this blog site. I have specific expertise in two sub-fields.  Within American politics, I teach and research on topics related to political institutions, public policy, and political behavior, with special consideration as to how they impact the functioning of our political system.  Within Comparative Politics, I look at many of the same themes, but within the regional areas of Latin America and Europe.  Above all, my passion and work focus on empowering people – students, colleagues, and citizens – to be able to better understand our political system in order to navigate it and evaluate it constructively.  With this series, I hope to provide such a forum, which can serve as a resource for citizens in evaluating policy, candidates and our system.



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