At Tufts’ IDHE, activism starts early

Adam Gismondi of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education discusses student use of social media and how it affects civic learning

Raider Times staff

At the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University in Somerville, Adam Gismondi studies student use of social media and how it affects civic learning and activism.

“You all can be a voice of a whole brand-new generation and can help stem the threat we have against Democracy,” he said, summing up the mission of his work during a recent Zoom interview with the Watertown High journalism students.

Gismondi grew up in Port Jefferson, N.Y., and went to college in Virginia at William and Mary. Afterward, he went to earn his masters at University of Florida before working in higher education at Florida State for four years. From there, he earned his PhD in higher ed at Boston College.

Gismondi works at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life as the Director of Impact at the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE). The IDHE is a small research team of around seven people.

The IDHE runs a national student voter study that accounts for over half of the students in the United States. About 1,200 colleges are enrolled in the student voter study and the findings are returned to each college broken up by demographics – race, gender, and major.

What’s the purpose of this survey? Gismondi explained that there are not many robust studies of student civic engagement.

“Lots of schools claim to be civically engaged, but the study called [those who had made false claims] on their bluff and gave other schools bragging rights,” he said.

“All these schools participate, and then get a 15-page study about how many students voted, and registered to vote.”

Student civic engagement through social media is “changing minute by minute,” he said, explaining even the algorithms of Facebook and other social media platforms change all the time.

He concluded by advising students to “get engaged and figure out what issues interest you and move you … more than half the battle is just showing up.”

(Story was written and reported by Ariana Boyajian, Dilara Canca, Xander Correa, Sofia Guerra, Nora Haroutunian, Mia Hurtado Zamora, Sarah Khan, Maya Musa, Gianna Nitschke, Valentina Ortiz, Eden Salley, Betzaida Solano Ramos, and Michelle Vinnik of Mr. Cooke’s journalism class.)

–Dec. 3, 2022–