Teaching Civic Engagement
Civic engagement can be integrated into courses in any discipline, because every subject has a public aspect to it, whether through policy, regulation, disparate experiences across populations, or some other connection to community life and the public sphere. At Pacific, we have the Civic Engagement (CE) course designation, which requires an experiential learning component, but the McCall Center also supports faculty who are interested in including civic engagement on a smaller scale or within the classroom.
Basics of Civic Engagement (CE) Designation
Faculty can receive individual support from the McCall Center as they explore how to work civic engagement into their course, consider possible partnerships, implement their curriculum, and assess the course. Faculty can contact the MCCE director, Stephanie Stokamer to initiate a conversation about their ideas and questions. Faculty can also check out our resources on course design, assignments, activities, student readings, and theoretical foundations of civic learning (Box folder, requires PUNet ID) to explore and brainstorm on their own. At some point, often, after some time to develop their curriculum further and reach out to necessary partners, faculty can complete a course designation form for CE. The designation form is routed via the normal curricular path from departments to school directors to the curriculum committee. The CE Faculty Committee, comprised of faculty from across the college, reviews CE course designation proposals. The MCCE is available throughout the process to refine the course design or help in other ways.
Courses that meet the CE Core MUST:
- Be approved by the Center for Civic Engagement through a proposal process (forms available on the CAS Curricular Changes page)
- Must be at least 2 credits
- Include the equivalent of one credit’s worth of civic engagement (including direct or indirect service or other forms of civic action, preparatory readings, reflection, orientation at a community site, in-class discussion specific to civic engagement, etc.)
The CE Faculty Committee looks for classes that can adhere to the Pacific University Principles of Quality Academic Civic Engagement and:
- Serve the common good
- Involve students in experiential learning outside the classroom and the teaching lab
- Engage students with the campus community or the broader world
- Include appropriate orientation, preparation for the project, and opportunity for thoughtful reflection
- Share the results of the project with the campus community through appropriate means devised in consultation with the MCCE
We encourage faculty to review our expectations for academic civic engagement.
Civic Engagement Course Design
Civic engagement can be integrated into courses in countless ways. Civic engagement covers civic actions such as volunteering, writing advocacy letters, engaging with community members and public officials, organizing events, and much more. While the learning outcomes for CE course designation are consistent throughout CE courses, all courses have other learning outcomes too that shape the focus of the civic engagement experience.
This chapter about course design for civic learning written by MCCE director Stephanie Stokamer and her colleague Patti Clayton is available to Pacific faculty:
Stokamer, S. T. & Clayton, P. H. (2017). Student civic learning through service learning: Instructional design and research. In J. Hatcher, R. Bringle, & T. Hahn (Eds.), Research on student civic outcomes in service learning: Conceptual frameworks and methods. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Reflection in Civic Engagement
Reflection is the learning process through which students can connect their experiences with civic action and academic concepts key to the course. While formats such as reflective analysis papers and discussions are common ways to generate reflective thinking, the creative possibilities for eliciting student thinking about civic engagement are endless.
Consider these resources, in addition to connecting with MCCE staff for ideas:
- Resources on course design, assignments, activities, student readings, and theoretical foundations of civic learning (Box folder, requires PUNet ID)
- Reflection Manual for educators published by the University of Vermont with prompts and activities
- Center for Civic Reflection | An organization that helps civic groups build capacity, commitment and community through reading and discussion
- Structured Reflection ideas from Campus Compact
- Protocols & Facilitation suggestions from National School Reform Faculty
- Reflection prompts from California State University Channel Islands
Civic Engagement Mentors, Liaisons, Leaders, and Other Class Support
Faculty often work with students to enhance their courses. Depending the department, structure of the course, faculty needs, and other variables, faculty might work with students embedded in their course, designated students from the MCCE, student leaders who can facilitate some elements of civic learning, or find other forms of class support by working with the MCCE.
In line with the College of Arts & Sciences Core curriculum, CE courses will include and be assessed upon the approved learning outcomes.
Assessment Resources and Tools from the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning
Sample course materials
- Sample syllabi from Campus Compact (searchable by discipline)
Tips for Faculty Thinking about Civic Engagement in their Courses
- The more deeply civic engagement is embedded in a class, the less “tracking hours” matters
- There are many different approaches used by faculty to integrate civic learning experiences
- We support faculty who want to do a little bit of civic engagement in their courses without trying to make it a CE course
- There is a faculty development mini-grant program to encourage faculty to develop new CE courses, integrate CE into existing courses, or revise and improve existing CE courses
- The mini-grant provides $525 in professional development funds and requires participation in a day-long workshop (typically after exams in December)
- The MCCE announces the request for proposals in October and provide a simple application process
- The MCCE can assist with identification of appropriate partners, experienced faculty, sample syllabi from other institutions, and in-class orientation to civic engagement
- MCCE staff are here to support you. Please contact the director of the McCall Center for Civic Engagement, Stephanie Stokamer, for questions related to the CE requirement or to set up a meeting to explore ideas together