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Civic Engagement

Submitted by on December 4, 2008 – 9:41 pm

key words when we talk about society, community and its empowerment:
1. Civic engagement
2. Community Development
3. Peace and social justice: Human rights, civil society and governance

Civic Engagement : Wikipedia gives a good narration of this concept.
“Civic engagement” can mean not only a set of actions and efforts, but a feeling of belonging, an experience of investment and ownership in the local, regional, national, and/or international political communities to which citizens belong. According to the New York Times , “Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference.”

Beginning in 2001, a major international research initiative on civic engagement was initiated by the Global Service Institute (GSI) at the Center for Social Development, at Washington University in St. Louis to more carefully define this term.
Civic engagement can take many forms— from individual volunteerism to organizational involvement to electoral participation. It can include efforts to directly address an issue, work with others in a communityy to solve a problem or interact with the institutions of representative democracy.
In a study published by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at the University of Maryland researchers developed a quantifiable definition of civic engagement. The following measure is based on 19 measures of civic engagement, which is divided into 3 categories: civic, electoral, and political voice.
Measures of Civic Engagement:

a] Civic b] Electoral c] Political Voice

Thomas Ehrlich says:
“Educational attainment is a powerful predictor of civic engagement. The more education people have, the more likely it is that they will participate in civic affairs.”
He further adds: Voice and Equality analyzed nine types of political activity: voting, campaign work, campaign contributions, contacting an official, protests, informal community work, membership on a local board, affiliation with a political organization, and contribution to a political cause. One could debate the presence or absence of one or more categories on this list, but in sum they reflect the range of activities that make our democracy work.

To summarize in simple words, Civic Engagement means as the organization PACE puts:
Civic Engagement:”There are many ways in which people participate in civic, community and political life and, by doing so, express their engaged citizenship. From volunteering to voting, from community organizing to political advocacy, the defining characteristic of active civic engagement is the commitment to participate and contribute to the improvement of one’s community, neighborhood and nation.”

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