Do You Live in a Civic Desert?
““Civic Deserts” — communities without opportunities for civic engagement — are increasingly common in the United States. The continued decline in a wide range of important indicators of civic health and connectivity threatens our prosperity, safety, and democracy.” (p. 4)
A new report “Civic Deserts: America’s Civic Health Challenges” was released last week at the 2017 annual NCoC conference. The report by Matthew N. Atwell, John Bridgeland and Peter Levine was produced in partnership with Civic Enterprises, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and the MCJ Amelior Foundation.
Some of the findings highlighted in the report include:
- “28 percent of Americans say that they belong to any group that has leaders whom they consider both accountable and inclusive” (p. 4)
- “From 1974 to 2004, membership in at least one community organization or group had decreased by more than 13 percentage points.” (p. 4)
- The report estimates that 60% of rural young Americans and almost a third of urban and suburban Americans perceive their communities to be civic deserts
- “Both American history education and civics education have been largely stagnant in participation and achievement since the 1990s;
- The percent of Americans who read a newspaper every day has declined in tandem with dwindling rates of trust in all forms of news media;
- Confidence in all branches of government continued to decline, as turnout in both presidential and congressional elections dropped in 2016 and 2014, respectively;
- The percent of Americans who spend time online and use social media platforms continued to rise, raising the possibility of the potential of new technologies to bolster civic engagement in new ways; and
- Volunteering in the United States has fallen significantly from nearly 30 percent of the population in 2005 to less than 25 percent in 2015.” (p. 6)
Chad Woolard, Ph.D., is an instructional assistant professor in the school of communication at Illinois State University and a long-time ADP supporter. His new book, Engaging Civic Engagement: Framing The Civic Education Movement In Higher Education (Lexington Books, 2017) is what we’re busy reading.
According to Chad, his new book asks:
What is civic engagement? That is the central question that every person who promotes civic education must answer to advocate for civic engagement and teach students’ civic and political engagement skills. However, the answer to that central question is often difficult because there are numerous, competing definitions of civic engagement. For new practitioners, gaining an understanding of civic education can be overwhelming; and for season practitioner, it is difficult to articulate civic education to administrators and practitioners beyond one’s own civic education perspective. Engaging Civic Engagement: Framing The Civic Education Movement In Higher Education provides an unique and much needed analysis of the various perspectives on civic education and identifies points of agreement and disagreement among civic education scholars and is useful for anyone who is interested in or advocates civic education in higher education.
Learn more about the book in this flyer.
Use code LEX30AUTH17 for a special 30% discount on this book through 9/1/2018.
We recommend reading the latest issue of the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement (JHEOE), a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal published by the University of Georgia. JHEOE is dedicated to advancing theory and practice related to outreach and engagement between higher education and communities.
In the latest issue, volume 21, No. 2, JHEOE authors address opposing perspectives on the purpose of engagement and tensions and contradictions in the relationships between communities and universities, among many other topics. Authors view community engagement from multiple conceptual perspectives, including community-based learning, collaborative relationships and faculty development and engagement as a strategy for justice. The reflective essays, research articles, projects, and book reviews in this issue provide new insight into challenges and explore problems to an even greater depth.
The journal is available here.
Projects with Promise:
Read the latest edition of Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, North Carolina Campus Compact’s peer-reviewed, online journal, hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
This spring 2017 issue of Partnerships offers new perspectives and research on enduring matters for service-learning scholars and practitioners. Three articles tackle distinct areas of concern: co-curricular service to complement academic service-learning; international service-learning, and, curriculum development using a cross-sector team that does not adhere to traditional hierarchies. In addition, three book reviews confront the “why” of our engaged work even as we regularly strive to disseminate the best possible practices within engaged scholarship.
The journal is available online here.
- Creating Intentional Paths to Citizenship: An Analysis of Participation in Student Organizations (Julianne Gassman, Jennifer M. Beck, Jonathan Klein)
- Developing Compassionate and Socially Responsible Global Citizens through Interdisciplinary, International Service-Learning (Sara Fry, Aileen Hale, Kelli Soll, Christopher Bower, Adiya Jaffari)
- Bringing innovation theory to practice in a program model for collaborative knowledge building: The Curriculum Fellows Program (Laura Barbas-Rhoden, Beate Brunow, Sydnie Mick)
- The political classroom: Evidence and ethics in democratic education (Vincent Russell)
- Public participation for 21st century democracy (Jeanette Musselwhite)
- Engaged research and practice: Higher education and the pursuit of the public good (Kathleen E. Edwards)