Congratulations to the eJournal of Public Affairs for the latest special issue — focused on Civic and Campus Health — Volume 5, No. 1 published in March 2016. It’s what we’re reading!
Front Matter: In memoriam: John H. Keiser (President, Missouri State University, 1993-2005)
Editorial: Healthy Communities / Health Colleges: Advancing Civic Health with Data and Action
Mark D. Potter, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Articles: Public Engagement: A Vital Leadership Skill
From the earliest days of the American republic, local communities have been incubators of civic health in the United States. While national, state and local assessments of civic health show a lack of engagement in political and social activities that were once the foundation of healthy local democracy, these first decades of the 21st Century have revealed both new challenges for local governments and new tools for engagement. As local leaders revisit the important role of engaged citizens in local programs and policies, the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy offers an example of how of public policy and public administration schools can be uniquely equipped to help with this task by preparing future local government leaders for and training current local government leaders in the vital leadership skill of engaging citizens to address public problems.
Keywords: Civic Engagement; Citizenship; Public trust; Education
Article: A Civic Health Dialogue and Deliberation: Engaging Business, Nonprofit and Public Leaders
Improving our understanding of the state of civic health in our nation and our communities is a critical first step to building civic and political connectedness. Recent efforts, including those of the State of Indiana, have focused on taking the pulse of our civic activity. These efforts highlight the importance of building civic knowledge and skills for citizens, including young upcoming civic actors. However, another important group of civic actors has largely gone unexamined in this effort to advance our civic health – public, private, and nonprofit sector leaders at both the regional and state levels. In this paper, we suggest that while each sector brings different qualities bring to the table, all are required to effectively advance initiatives targeting our civic health. We then describe a method for reinvigorating our civic disposition, and building regional social capital to collectively address the negative outcomes of civic health challenges.
Keywords: Civic health; Civic disposition; Civic Leaders
Article: Taking a Closer Look at Campus Civic Health: Are We Measuring Dutiful or Actualized Citizenship on Campus?
Adam Van Liere, Jeremy Arney, and Jo Arney
As members of the Campus and Community Civic Health Initiative we used National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) measures to gauge civic health on our campus. By utilizing course-embedded research project as part of a capstone class, we were able to interview student organizations, faculty, and campus offices regarding their activities in the areas covered by the indicators. Our study uncovered a strong civic campus culture but the analysis of the results seemed somewhat inconsistent with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) results for our campus. Turning to the literature, and using our data as a case study, we argue that traditional measures of civic health need to be updated to reflect a more actualized definition utilized by young adults today.
Keywords: Civic Engagement; Civic Health; Citizenship
Instruments and Reports: College at Brockport Civic Health Report
Susan Orr and Dena Levy
This report assesses the Civic Health of the Collage at Brockport. It is modeled on the national and state reports produced in cooperation with the National Conference on Citizenship and was undertaken as a part of the American Democracy Project’s Civic Health Initiative. Compilation of the report was integrated into a political science research methods course; students from the course collected compiled and analyzed data for the report in the process of learning research concepts and skills. All students in the class produced mini-reports – three students who produced particularly strong individual reports were selected to work with course faculty to produce a final comprehensive version of the report was published and made available to the college community.
Keywords: Civic Health; Services; Social Connectedness; Political Action
Instruments and Reports: Lincoln Park Survey Instrument
Mark D. Potter
In fall 2013, students in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s advanced research in social science course, under the supervision of Dr. Nicholas Recker, responded to the Campus & Community Civic Health initiative by conducting a survey of businesses in the nearby La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood. Businesses were selected as the study’s focus due to their important community role and their being understudied in civic engagement research.
The students designed a survey focusing on how businesses perceived their neighborhood, their level of civic involvement, and their community partnerships. The survey also assessed topics related to civic engagement such as social capital (comprised of networks, norms of reciprocity, and trust). As part of the research design, students employed a drop-off pick-up method. This particular technique was advantageous because it engaged students with the nearby community as they collected data.
After the study was completed, MSU Denver hosted an event in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood to discuss findings and strengthen community ties. The event was well attended both by members of the university and the community. The event included opportunity for small group dialogue on themes presented from the research findings.
Instruments and Reports: Social Capital and Civic Participation in the Ozarks: Summary of Findings from the Ozarks Regional Social Capital Survey
Mike Stout, John B Harms, and Timothy D. Knapp
This report summarizes the civic health of the Missouri Ozarks, a ten county region in Southwest Missouri. It is the first of its kind for the region and documents the health of the Ozarks’ civic sector. The report describes various indicators of civic life in Southwest Missouri. It also brings the workings of civil society into a broad discussion about what kind of institutional structure will best support democracy. Historical trends across the United States show that some forms of civic participation are declining. However, our analyses of social capital, socioeconomic status, and civic participation in Southwest Missouri show that there are foundations that can be built upon to revitalize the region’s civic health. The information in this report can be used to motivate and inform discussions of how to enliven civic participation in Southwest Missouri and strengthen the social fabric of the Show Me State.
Keywords: Social Capital; Civic Participation; Socio Economic Status