Summary of Why Ordinary People Need to Understand Power

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At one time, civics was sexy. These days, however, mention civics and you’re likely to get a big yawn. Civics educator Eric Liu seeks to change this perception because, as he deftly explains, civics really involves power dynamics and the wielding of influence. getAbstract recommends this powerful talk to anyone who is itching to effect positive change.

About the Speaker

Eric Liu is the founder of Citizen University, which teaches the art of effective and creative citizenship.



Talk of civics bores most people. Yet civics can regain the allure it held during the American Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement, for example. Civics concerns wielding power. It is “the art of being a prosocial, problem-solving contributor in a self-governing community.” The baseline requirements for civic participation are strong values, a familiarity with governance systems, and the ability to set a goal and entice others to your quest. While the word “power” has evil connotations, it isn’t intrinsically evil; it’s the ability to sway others to act in accord with your wishes. Power drives every type of government.

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