Civic engagement is a key component of the Pacific University experience, embedded in both academics and activities. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences must satisfy a Civic Engagement (CE) core requirement through the completion of a CE-designated course or a CE project. In addition, many student groups, clubs, athletic teams, residence halls, and sororities and fraternities participate in civic engagement activities.
The MCCE works with all kinds of student groups, as well as faculty and staff, to create and support civic engagement experiences. The Civic Action Team can help you understand your options for CE designated courses or doing CE projects. The MCCE also houses student clubs related to civic engagement, through which students can develop their own interests and take activities in the direction they choose.
If civic engagement sounds like something you’re pretty excited about, consider joining the Civic Action Team in the MCCE. And if you haven’t seen it already, check out the Get Involved section of our website to see what you can do now.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) by Students
What is Civic Engagement?
Civic engagement addresses social, political, and environmental issues in the community through actions that can make a difference on those issues, including service, advocacy, awareness-raising, activism, action-oriented research, deliberative dialogue, electoral participation, and political involvement.
We often refer to the Social Change Wheel to describe the variety of activities that fall under the umbrella of civic engagement at Pacific University.
Why is CE a requirement for graduation?
It is a requirement of all students prior to graduation because, in the spirit of a liberal arts education, civic learning is as necessary for creating a well-rounded student as any other class that might be offered at the University. Further, a CE requirement creates a broad range of students with varying interests and areas of expertise helping to improve our community. There are also career and personal benefits to be gained from CE, and it fosters a sense of community within campus and with our local surroundings.
Where can I do CE?
As a community member, you are welcome to participate in any activities that are open to the public, whether connected to Pacific or not. In many cases students get involved alongside other members of the community outside of Pacific, and at other times Pacific groups organize involvement. For example, in CIV 110 Action for Affordable Housing, students serve at West Tuality Habitat for Humanity while learning about affordable housing. In CIV105: Introduction to Civic Engagement, students are learning about many different current issues and kinds of engagement that affect them; in that class, students have choices within parameters given by the professor. For the civic engagement core requirement, the activities you undertake depend on the course, and may or may not be arranged for ahead of time. For example, You can complete your project at any public or private non-profit organization in which you can meet the student learning outcomes for civic engagement, your course requirements, and the Principles of Quality Academic Civic Engagement.
How many hours do I need to complete in order to fulfill the requirement?
Because civic engagement is an academic requirement, fulfillment is based on learning, not logging a certain number of hours—in some cases logging hours does not even make sense. However, all academic credits align roughly to hours, and in this case the work involved in fulfilling a CE requirement totals approximately one credit of academic learning, or about 40 hours. This amount of time ensures enough depth of experience that you can both make a significant contribution and learn from your experience. It includes all aspects of the civic engagement learning experience and does not equate to 40 hours of direct community service.
Can’t I just do the hours?
The Civic Engagement Core Requirement is an academic requirement. It is not just about “doing” but also about learning from doing and contributing your learning to make the world a better place. That is why part of your project needs to be devoted to demonstrating your learning through papers, presentations, or some other form of assignment, embedded in a class or thoughtfully proposed independent project.
I did a bunch of volunteer work last summer/in high school/sometime in the past. Does that count?
No. We do not grant civic engagement credit retroactively. However, if you took a college course previously that had an in-depth service-learning or civic engagement requirement, you may petition to have that class transfer to Pacific and fulfill the requirement. Please speak with the Advising Center if that’s the case.
Is there any funding available to support students with CE projects?
Yes! Students can apply for the Student Civic Engagement Mini-Grant to support civic engagement projects. If your proposal is accepted, funds are typically disbursed through a reimbursement process (students pay up front and must have a receipt in order to be reimbursed). Reimbursement paperwork must be submitted to the director of the MCCE by December 1st for fall term expenses, February 1st for winter term expenses, and May 1st for spring term expenses. If students do not follow through with securing reimbursement or funding by the deadline, their allotment may be used for other purposes instead. Some expenses, such as printing, copying, or certain art supplies may be covered directly by the MCCE.
I don't have a car. What are my options for transportation to my civic engagement site?
The MCCE can assist students with planning around logistics such as transportation. Many sites are within walking distance for students with mobility challenges. Others are accessible by public transportation through Portland Metro's Tri-Met service, or through Ride Connection, the transportation service of Forest Grove. Students can borrow bikes from Outdoor Pursuits or go through the process to be certified to drive a university motor pool vehicle.
How does a civic engagement experience lead to meaningful learning?
Learning from civic engagement is maximized when students connect their experiences to larger community issues and contexts, examine questions of power and privilege, explore who has the ability to make decisions that can influence change, and reflect on the conditions and mechanisms under which change can occur. Further, by connecting their personal and academic knowledge, skills, values, and behaviors to particular issues and concerns, students can see how they can contribute to and enhance our society. Faculty and/or course mentors may facilitate this kind of thinking through reflective writing, discussions, portfolios, presentations, and other assignments.