Do campus student organizations cultivate civic skills and identities?
JOIN A NATIONAL STUDY TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION. This National Study is being organized by two ADP Campus Coordinators and political science faculty members — Elizabeth Bennion at Indiana University South Bend and Cherie Strachan at Central Michigan University.
Invitation to Participate
Minimal time commitment! Serve as campus coordinator or recruit somebody else!
TO SIGN UP OR GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CIVIC SKILLS RESEARCH PROJECT, please send the following information to Elizabeth Bennion at the project email address RSOstudy@iusb.edu: name, title, contact information (including email and phone number).
Colleges and universities are increasingly called upon to bolster students’ civic and political engagement. Yet research in both political science and higher education suggest that current college-level civic education and political science coursework are incapable of fully addressing these concerns. Political scientists know that participation in associational life plays an important role in cultivating such engagement. Yet we have largely overlooked the potential of civil society on our own campuses. Given the prominent role of voluntary associations in political socialization, this work explores whether student organizations function as the equivalent of campus civil society, and whether they can supplement formal civic education efforts on campus. A single-campus pilot study, based on an internet survey of student organization presidents, found that traditional Greek organizations far outperformed other types of campus organizations in activities known to cultivate members’ civic identities, political skills, and political efficacy. The finding that some student organizations excel at this task is reassuring. Yet given the reputation of Greek organizations, this preliminary pattern is also disconcerting. Recent research by both sociologists and higher education scholars have found that participation in Greek organizations is associated with higher levels of sexism and symbolic racism. This project seeks to replicate the single campus pilot study across numerous college campuses, to determine whether the patterns identified are unique to a single campus, or whether they describe the state of campus civil society across higher education. The findings will help advocates of campus civic engagement to identify both problem-areas and best-practices for student groups. [NOTE: You do NOT need to have Greek organization on campus to participate in this study of registered student organizations.]
Participation Requirements | Campus coordinators for this project will be asked to:
- Assemble contact information for student organization presidents on their campus
- Provide assistance coordinating approval of the questionnaire/study for their campus
- Help to bolster the response rate on their campus
Participation Benefits | Campus coordinators for this project will receive:
- A report detailing the findings for their own campus
- A summary report comparing their campus to overall findings
- A letter documenting participation in the project
- Eligibility to serve as PI of future Consortium projects
IRB Approval Notice
This study has already been approved by the Institutional Review Board at both Indiana University South Bend and Central Michigan University. The Principle Investigators of the study, Elizabeth Bennion (IUSB) and J. Cherie Strachan (CMU) will assure that all protocols are strictly observed. The recruitment procedure and student leader survey have been vetted by the Institutional Review Board of each campus in accordance with university and federal policies governing human subjects research. A copy of the IRB approval letters, or other IRB materials, is available upon request. Separate IRB approvals are NOT required for each participating campus. The requirements and approval protocols for student participation in national research studies vary by campus. However, if your campus would like you (or the PIs) to submit an IRB application, or other materials, please contact Elizabeth Bennion at the project email site RSOstudy@iusb.edu. Dr. Bennion will be pleased to assist with any IRB requests related to this study of registered student organizations.