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TICO Presents: The Program on Digital Democracy


The question is no longer if Democracy can survive the internet, but how?

Democracy derives from the Greek words "demos" and "kratos." In Ancient Greece,  "demos" referred to a whole citizen living within a particular city-state, and "kratos" meant the power of the people to hold authority and voice their opinions in a community public square. 

In the new millennia, with the rise of the internet, our community public square has been expanded to include virtual political discourse. We have seen the internet work to topple governments, as was the case in the Arab Spring, coordinate worldwide movements as with the calls for climate action, and give voice to those often ignored by mainstream media. The ubiquity of the internet in our daily lives has been further emphasized by our recent pandemic and social distancing orders; COVID-19 has propelled social movements into the online sphere, as illustrated by the BLM movement and its auxiliary calls to action. In our current digital democracy, our demos is located in our online platforms and kratos is enacted by all who use them. The playbook blends theory with practice, creating an internet literacy for post-pandemic political participation and engagement. 

The question is no longer can democracy survive the internet, but how? In a post-pandemic world, the political power of the internet will only grow. We need tools to navigate our online community public sphere; the Institute for Civic Organizing (TICO) is ready to provide them. We are launching our Program in Digital Democracy, in partnership with the Stanford Program on Democracy and the Internet. This free program entails a Grassroots Digital Playbook and a complimentary certificate course in Digital Civic Organizing. 


The Grassroots Digital Playbook: An essential guide to Digital Organizing, Engagement, and Communications 

The Grassroots Digital Playbook (GDP) is a non-partisan selection of experts in communications, politics, academia, and law, who provide a compass for traversing the potential benefits and shortcomings of internet citizenship (we derived this term from our focus groups; in this context, internet citizenship refers to the roles and responsibilities of the individual online user). The Grassroots Digital Playbook is an accessible resource to help anyone facilitate democracy in their community, whether you define that as your neighborhood, your country, or the world. The recommendations in this playbook are the synthesis of personal interviews with experts, as well as applicable teachings from academic and professional political campaigning materials.

The playbook provides an overview of how democracy has expanded to include the internet, encompassing:

  • The contentious rise of Digital Democracy

  • Principles of Digital Demos and Internet Citizenship

  • Tools for Digital Justice and Protection

  • Kindling Kratos and Empowerment Online

Click the button below to see the table of contents and learning outcomes!

Certificate Course in Digital Civic Organizing

As a complement to our Grassroots Digital Playbook, The Institute for Civic Organizing is creating a free, publicly accessible Digital Civic Organizing certificate course. This course distills the Grassroots Digital Playbook into a relevant civic organizing course, taught in four hour-long sessions that are modeled off of corresponding sections from the Playbook, leading to a final simulation. This course culminates in a certificate from the Stanford Project on Democracy and the Internet and The Institute for Civic Organizing in Digital Civic Organizing. We engage all three pillars of the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines to empower individuals with the necessary online engagement tools.

Social Media Research and Impact Analysis

TICO's research division analyzes the impact of the Program on Digital Democracy. We will discern which aspects of the Program have the largest potential to create systemic change. The TICO Community Resilience Journal is looking for ways to provide the Internet Organizing and Civics Certificate to students for free while expanding our international network. This program creates a space for interdisciplinary social action. We will incorporate technical expertise that could support the Program in implementing a system to access it both online and offline, in order to allow full participation from participants who do not have steady access to the internet.


The Program on Digital Democracy and Internet Civics utilizes an interactive and participatory format. Although the Program assumes a digital playbook, said playbook is not confined to only written material. Rather, the playbook will be filled with check–in–points, quizzes, and animations that provide various manners of learning: audio, kinesthetic, and visual. In doing so, TICO has curated a playbook that is accessible to all learning communities and that provides various pathways to arrive at the same outcomes.

How to Get Involved:

Sign up to be notified when the Grassroots Digital Playbook and Digital Organizing Course are released.

Click the button below to view a sample of the online course!

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