18 Pages

Civic Engagement Is a Process: Lessons from a First-Year Public Administration Course

WithZulema Blair

Given the growing civic engagement gap between nonselective and selective colleges, this article addresses the question: How can colleges of access produce more civically engaged and community-minded individuals? As Flanagan and Levine have demonstrated (2010) it is evident that opportunities for civic engagement are not evenly distributed across social class, race, and ethnic groups. To fill this void, colleges of access were approached by the Association of American State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to implement a campus-wide infrastructure to increase civic engagement of their students. Medgar Evers College (MEC) of the City University of New York (CUNY), a predominantly Black institution (PBI) and college of access, is used as a case in point to examine and provide suggestions about a strategy for implementing the civic mission and what is needed going forward. A key finding is that civic learning is the first and necessary step of civic engagement. Therefore, civic learning is a necessary protocol for persons with low socioeconomic status, such as students enrolled in colleges of access, because it allows them to develop a public voice thereby increasing their ability to successfully participate in civil discourse.