Office of Civic Engagement

Quick Facts

What is civic engagement?

Thomas Ehrlich may have said it best when he defined civic engagement as "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."

Why is civic engagement important?

Civic engagement is important to the health of democratic nations. Well-functioning democracies are the result of active participation of their citizens. Our office recognizes the importance of the big picture of civic engagement, and also focuses on our local area and the North State. We think civic engagement is particularly important to foster in a college setting to help students find what's important and give them the tools on how to get involved in the "real world."

What is the difference between civic engagement, service learning and community-based scholarship?

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement is a pedagogical learning experience within an academic course. It encompasses a broad range of ways (applied learning activities) that courses may engage students in learning about and taking action for the public good. The applied learning activity is directed toward the achievement of course learning objectives and also toward making meaningful contributions through collaborative active participation. The applied learning activity is used to clarify, illustrate, challenge, or stimulate additional thought about the topics covered in the classroom. Structured written and/or oral reflection ties the applied experiences to the academic content of the course and also provides students with the opportunity to develop or strengthen their awareness of the relationship between the course material and societal needs, a service ethic, and their role as citizens.

Service Learning

Service learning uses community service as the vehicle for the attainment of students' academic goals and objectives. Students perform valuable significant and necessary service which has real consequences to the community. The goal of the service is to empower students and those being served. It is different from volunteer work. We think volunteering is great. Get out in the world and make a difference. But-- we also think volunteering is significantly more meaningful to you as well as who you volunteer for is the volunteering is followed by learning. We believe in purposeful, intentional civic involvement with reflection and self-evaluation. More about service learning

Community-based Scholarship

Community-based scholarship also called community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a partnership approach to research that equitably involves, for example, community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process and in which all partners contribute expertise and share decision making and ownership. The attached table outlines the differences between CBPR and traditional research. More about community-based scholarship