Past Event

Bridging Civil Divides: Youth Civic Engagement

They were clearly aware that their societies situated them in the future, and that politicians talked about them as the future of their country, without giving them a voice in the present. Therefore, they extracted agency in the present. They wanted to be heard now, wanted to exercise their rights now, and wanted to be considered citizens, with rights, now.” –Maria de los Angeles Torres

In urban cities across the world, youth of today are bridging the perceived generational divides on civic engagement, showing that they care deeply about their communities and are actively engaged in a variety of public issues.

Join us along with The Mikva Challenge and UIC’s Great Cities Institute as we present a book release and panel discussion with co-author Maria de los Angeles Torres on the new book, Citizens in the Present: Youth Civic Engagement in the Americas.

Dispelling the predominant myth that the youth of today are apathetic and uninterested in politics, the book shares narratives from youth in Chicago, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro to investigate what motivates young people in these cities, which forces influence them, and what their actions reveal about democratic practices today.

Co-author, Maria de los Angeles Torres will be joined will by a distinguished panel of local authors, young people, and youth advocates.

The event is free and open to the public. However, registration is required and can be made online, via email, or by calling 312.422.5580.

About the Speakers

  • Maria de los Angeles Torres is director and professor of Latin American and Latin studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Judge Abner Mikva, founder of the Mikva Challenge, which develops civic leadership in Chicago high school youth.
  • Teresa Córdova, Director of UIC’s Great Cities Institute, which sponsors educational programs aimed at improving the quality of life of people living in Chicago, its metropolitan region, and other great cities of the world.
  • Youth representatives from the Mikva Challenge, who were interviewed in the book, will discuss their current civic engagement efforts in areas such as youth policy-making, community problem-solving, and youth electoral participation.



This event is part of Bridging Divides, a series that draws on the humanities to help local communities address seemingly intractable social, cultural and political divides. The Bridging Divides series is made possible in part by the generous support of The Boeing Company and is part of the IHC’s Conversations on Contemporary Issues program.


If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580 at least 72 hours prior to the event. For parking locations near the facility, please visit