Civic engagement is active participation in the public life in the community and it means that your actions are informed, committed and constructive, and they benefit the community. The video stresses the importance of the “community” as the center of civic engagement. It also mentions the reciprocal relationship with your community i.e. what do you gain from your community and what do you contribute with?
The examples of possible ways to be civically engaged, shown in the video are:
- To volunteer and to serve in the local community, NGO, Governmental agency or public school;
- Service-learning or academic-based research that addresses community issues;
- Learn about issues that are important to you and advocate for policies that affect those issues;
- Vote on elections for the representatives that represent your values and the public interest;
These are only a few of the forms that you can be civically engaged. The video also shows that civic engagement and academic achievement are linked. Young people that are civically engaged have higher grades and are more likely to pass exams and to stay in school. They also have more confidence and faith that they can overcome a difficulty. Young people that are civically engaged have a larger social network and greater social support. They also have a higher appreciation of diversity and a sense of belonging. Lastly, young people that are civically engaged have a higher sense of identity, meaning, direction and purpose.
Why did I choose this tool?
This tool is a simple way for beginners and young people to understand civic engagement as a concept. It doesn’t only give them examples of actions, but also links the civic engagement to the academic achievement of the students, and also asks questions for reflection. It is short but it gives relevant insight into civic engagement.
Suggested Reflection Questions
What are your reflections as a trainer? Do you recognize your role as a trainer, as a civic engagement act? Where do you see your role in the civic engagement in your local community? How often do you talk with young people about civic engagement in their community?
Take few moments to think about the community in which you belong. The community you are in can be your family, friends, neighborhood, a student club etc. Are you taking any action in that community?
What do you think it can be improved in those communities?
What actions can you take to make a difference?