Colleges Are Caring More Than Ever About Civic Engagement
Recent trends show that civic literacy and engagement are now becoming increasingly important to a college education.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education released a report requesting that colleges make civic education and democratic engagement a priority in what is being called a “civic recession” in the country. Since then, many colleges across the country have invested in programs that ensure that students are not only getting an education within the classroom, but are also encouraged to interact with the community, participate in local, national and global issues, and strive to make positive changes in society.
Hofstra University is one of the colleges encouraging students to be active in the community. The Center for Civic Engagement, and now the Institute for Peace Studies, both promote discussion of issues and the integration of students as citizens in the community.
The recent flux of incorporation of civic engagement in college curricula comes at a time that students are becoming increasingly interested in civic and political issues. Inside Higher Ed, an online news source, reported in February 2016 that college students, most predominantly black college students, are at an all-time high in terms of interest in student activism.
The figure above, borrowed from the article, shows the responses to the American Freshman Survey in the area of likelihood to protest. The change from 2014 to 2015 is stark.
There are many reasons why students may be more interested than ever in participating in more civic-minded activities. Some of those reasons include the Black Lives Matter movement and stigma being removed from LGBTQ issues and mental health issues. Another potential reason is that it is said that the millennial generation is the first in U.S. history to be anticipated to be worse off than their parents, leading to some unrest amongst the generation.
Many current college students also entered the political world in the era of Barack Obama, and messages of change and justice have been prevalent in their upbringing. This is likely to be another contributing factor leading to the increase in college students interested in protest and community involvement.
Research shows that many colleges and their students are taking a step forward into civic engagement. Are you? Join the Center for Civic Engagement at Hofstra to become an active citizen in your community!