What is civic engagement?
The California State University Chancellor’s Office defines “civic engagement” as
… collaboration between higher education and their larger communities…for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
Here at Chico State, civic engagement encompasses a range of activities in which members of the University—faculty, students, staff, administrators—work with persons and organizations in the communities the University serves in order to study and learn while strengthening the social, economic, political, and physical environments we share.
At its most general, civic engagement is the habit of involving ourselves in our communities because we know that, in the end, we get the sort of public life we’ve worked to build and sustain. Civic engagement means carrying out one’s role—as a scholar, teacher, administrator, or student—without losing sight of the fact that, in a democracy, each of us is responsible for the society that makes it possible for us to pursue our individual purposes and live our individual lives.
Civic engagement resembles what has been called “outreach.” James Bonnen defines outreach as “...conscious commitment by academic units of the university to some role in the problem-solving efforts of society...” (James T. Bonnen. 1998. “The Land-Grant Idea and the Evolving Outreach University,” University-Community Collaborations for the Twenty-First Century. Richard M. Lerner and LouAnna K. Simon, eds. New York: Garland) Specifically, outreach is teaching and research carried on through participation in the efforts of communities to solve problems, fill needs, and respond to challenges and opportunities.
Return to the Frequently Asked Questions page.