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Charleston Southern University > Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement

Charleston Southern University provides opportunities for the campus to participate in two areas of Civic Engagement: Service Learning and Community Service.

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 community to solve a problem or interact with the institutions of representative democracy. Civic engagement encompasses a range of specific activities such as working in a soup kitchen, serving on a neighborhood association, writing a letter to an elected official or voting. Indeed, an underlying principal of our approach is that an engaged citizen should have the ability, agency and opportunity to move comfortably among these various types of civic acts.

Service learning and civic engagement are not the same thing in the sense that not all service learning has a civic dimension and not all civic engagement is service learning. For definition's sake, civic engagement is the broader motif, encompassing service learning but not limited to it. One useful definition of civic engagement is the following: individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern. 

Civic engagement is the participation of private actors in the public sphere, conducted through direct and indirect interactions of civil society organizations and citizens-at-large with government, multilateral institutions and business establishments to influence decision making or pursue common goals.

Engagement of citizens and citizens' organizations in public policy debate, or in delivering public services and contributing to the management of public goods, is a critical factor in making development policy and action responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people and potentially of the poor.