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Research & Scholarship

Civic Reflection: A Method for considering values, choices and civic commitments in increasingly polarized times (PDF)

Abstract: Civic reflection is a conversation tool developed in the United States in the 1990s to bring people together to think deeply about how and why they engage in public life. In times of political tension, civic reflection is a technique for finding commonalities, understanding differences, and encouraging individuals to consider their civic commitments. The goal of civic reflection is to build connections and understanding among participants as well as individual self-reflection and learning. In doing so, civic reflection provides spaces for conversation contemplating values, choices, and the needs of communities and the role one sees for themselves in these communities.

Discipline-Oriented Citizenship (PDF)

Abstract: The authors introduce a framework for considering the particularities of civic engagement in higher education. Colleges and universities make increasing reference to civic engagement in mission statements and other guiding documents; however, these documents often do not allow for distinctions between types of civic engagement activities that might occur in specific academic disciplines. This suggests a singular approach to civic engagement. The authors argue that actual pedagogies demonstrate variance and nuance in purposes of and approaches to civic engagement. Supporting faculty considerations of what content and skills are necessary for civic engagement in a particular academic discipline, the authors examine the notion of disciplinary literacy and adapt it to the college classroom.

Civic Engagement Among Youth Exposed to Community Violence: Directions for Research and Practice (PDF)

Abstract: Historically and contemporarily marginalized youth who are disproportionately exposed to community violence are often the same youth who are less likely to be civically engaged. However, the community violence and civic engagement literatures have not yet fully explored how these experiences may be linked in young people’s lives and in relation to what other forces. Using developmental assets and ecological-transactional frameworks, we review the emerging literature on civic engagement among youth exposed to community violence and how external developmental assets and neighborhood collective efficacy may create opportunity for their increased civic engagement. We present numerous conceptually-and empirically-based hypotheses to further examine the intersections between exposure to community violence and youth civic engagement. Ultimately, we identify opportunities for intervention.

Making civic engagement go viral: Applying social epidemiology principles to civic education (PDF)

Abstract:This paper explores the connections between education for youth civic engagement and theories and strategies from public health (specifically, epidemiology). We illustrate this with four applications of epidemiologic theory to youth civic engagement: social determinants and fundamental causes, vulnerable populations and cumulative disadvantage, positive spillover, and herd immunity and critical mass. Formalizing concepts of current civics, in schools and the public, as a civic epidemic, we present a case for individual-and group-level interventions based around targeted, school-based, effective civic education initiatives. Grounded in epidemiological theory, such approaches call attention to the simultaneous need to improve broad civics education and ensure that particular populations receive necessary attentions.

Teaching faculty to teach civic engagement: Interdisciplinary models to facilitate pedagogical success (PDF)

Abstract: This chapter examines faculty development programming designed to support and encourage the incorporation of civic engagement assignments within normal curricular offerings. By assessing faculty development seminars at two comprehensive institutions, the authors identify the perceived benefits of participants as well as where improvements might be made. The purpose of this chapter is to serve as a model for universities developing programs to support faculty efforts. Through focus groups with participating faculty, the authors find that key factors for success included financial, logistical, and programmatic support as well as the institutionalization of the recognition of efforts in merit, tenure, and promotion processes.

Engaging the Educators: Facilitating Civic Engagement Through Faculty Development (PDF)

Abstract: Incorporating civic engagement into academically rigorous classroom practice requires the retooling of course delivery. In this article, the authors describe an 8-week seminar that acts as a structured, incentivized opportunity for course redesign for Salisbury University (Maryland) faculty who wish to incorporate rigorous and effective civic engagement across the liberal arts curriculum. Lessons learned include the effect of providing space for discussion and pedagogical imagining, the importance of disciplinary literacy and social responsibility, perspectives for dealing with differing faculty expectations of student engagement, strategies for moving beyond roadblocks, and challenges posed by concepts of citizenship and “civic” within the seminar.