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Civic Engagement

What do we mean by civic enagement and how it differs from other kinds of community service.

What does Civic Engagement mean? - according to the American Psychological Association it is a broader motif than service-learning (Community Engagement).  It is "individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern. Civic engagement can take many forms, from individual voluntarism to organizational involvement to electoral participation. It can include efforts to directly address an issue, work with others in a community to solve a problem or interact with the institutions of representative democracy."

"Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes."   - Thomas Ehrlich, Civic Responsibility and Higher Education

What does community service mean? -  "work that is done without pay to help people in a community"  Many people confuse Civic Engagement and Community Service as the same thing but it is not. Community service frequently requires linking the knowledge learned from coursework to what the student experiences in the community.  A culminating project linking the personal experience with interpersonal development plus reflection on the critical knowledge they gained during the learning period is usually required.

The difference between the two is civic engagement is working together to make a difference in the community while community service is course based.


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