This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book focuses on the interdependent relationship between youths' political engagement, their development, and societal health. Youth and societal institutions are strengthened when young people, particularly those most disadvantaged by education inequity, turn their critical gaze to education systems and participate in efforts to improve them. The book's case studies of youth organizing and student activism analyze what these experiences mean for young people and why they are good for a socially just democracy. This research is motivated by questions about the relationship between youth activism, human development, and democratic renewal: What is youth activism and how does it contribute to youth development? How might collective movements of young people expand educational opportunity in the United States and resuscitate participatory democracy?
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