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12th Annual Envisioning California Conference

September 21 - 22, 2000
State Capitol - Sacramento

e-democracy, education and initiatives ~

the future of the california republic

About The Conference...

The substantial growth of democracies throughout the world in the past half century is due, in no small part, to the explosion of electronic communication. From television to the Internet, citizens of all nations now have unprecedented access to the world marketplace of facts and ideas. Inevitably, this Electronic Information Age will – in varying degrees – impact all of our society’s activities, as did the Industrial Revolution.

In the 12th Annual Envisioning California Conference, E-Democracy, Initiatives & Education: The Future of the California Republic, discussants will examine how the new electronic technologies will alter life in California. Recruited to reflect California’s social, economic, and ethnic diversity, our panelists will examine how California’s problems may be resolved or redefined by the Information Age.


Dot.coms, Cyber Communities, and Wired Government: 
The E-Future of California

California has long been a global pacesetter in politics, as well as business, culture, and technology. Californians created the first professional campaign management firm and the first personal computer. Electronic voting, e-commerce and e-mail -- information technology has transformed the way we campaign, do business, and communicate. It will continue to alter the processes, structures, and values of California. The question is how: how will the electronic age transform government?

The Great California Experiment: Heterogeneous Populations and Homogeneous Electorates

Researchers, policy makers, the media and the public continue to grapple with the impacts of rapidly changing demographics in California. One aspect of this challenge is both fundamental and generally overlooked: The state's population may be diverse but the state's electorate is not. The statewide electorate is far more affluent, older and less diverse than are the people of California. Some have argued that this means the issues and candidates decided by the statewide electorate (governors and state ballot measures) may not be responsive to the needs of all Californians and, indeed, may actually be used to counter the demands of emerging populations. Is this view accurate? If so, what if anything can be done?

Master Plan for the 21st Century: 
Higher Education and Public Policy

In recent years, the complexity and controversy surrounding higher education policy has dominated public debate in California. Discussion surrounding admissions policies, retention and graduation rates, and distance learning through the World Wide Web garners widespread public attention. This panel will focus on ways to bring together effectively the diverging interests in higher education to enhance public policy and discussion.

 Republic or a Democracy: 
Legislatures in the Electronic Future

What are the implications of the computer age for a republican form of government? The essential core of a republic is the representative legislature: a group of citizens chosen by the people to make decisions. A legislature can, in the words of James Madison, "refine and enlarge" the public view which will then be "more consonant with the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves. But, the digital age has already altered the processes and assumptions of a republic. The calls for Internet voting and on-line ballot petitions have consequences far beyond increasing turnout and easing communication between citizens and their representatives.

Electoral Disinterest: Can the Internet stimulate 
voting and interest in politics?

The general public often feels that government is inaccessible, non-representative, and quickly becoming irrelevant in our rapidly moving society. Low voter turnout, attention to selected policy issues with arguably limited public impact, and decreased participation in political campaigns contrast sharply to increased volunteerism amongst the youth, revitalization of religious groups, and calls for mentorship. Will the Internet provide a vehicle to assuage political apathy? If not, what will?

Unorthodox Communities: 
Mapping the Real California

The spatial criteria for redrawing congressional and legislative districts tend to be highly unimaginative and staid: city lines, county boundaries and, in the controlling opinion of the California Supreme Court, the State's four "natural geographical regions" -- north coastal, north inland, south coastal and south inland. But are there other definitions that would better reflect the human and natural geography of California. How would writers and artists, naturalists and environmentalists, corporations and utilities map California?

Sponsored by:

  • The Center for California Studies, California State University, Sacramento
  • The Center for Southern California Studies, California State University, Northridge