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Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines (2017)

For a democracy to function effectively, its citizens must participate. Furthermore, these same citizens must deliberate effectively, engage with one another, and arrive at workable compromises. Although these skills are critical for a vibrant society, the means to learn and develop them—civic engagement education—is lacking in American education today. Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines evaluates the goals, challenges, and rewards of integrating civic education into the curriculum, highlighting best practices across disciplines and campuses.

Editors Elizabeth C. Matto, Alison Rios Millett McCartney, Elizabeth A. Bennion, and Dick Simpson have gathered a diverse group of 38 contributors who approach civic engagement education from multiple disciplines and perspectives. The result is a book that is nuanced, far reaching, and practical for all educators. The book explains how campuses can promote high quality education for civic engagement, providing a wealth of examples of successful practices, techniques, and assessment strategies.

The first section lays a foundation for successful civic engagement education, discussing the optimum classroom and campus environment, the government’s role in civic education, and the history of civic education, particularly in political science. The next section explores the purpose and practice of civic education and the importance of integrating such education across the disciplines, including the arts, engineering, and general education. Finally, the last section moves beyond the classroom to explore additional ways to expand civic engagement across the disciplines and throughout campus life. The chapters argue that politics affects every person and profession; therefore, educating students of all disciplines will prepare them to successfully engage in their communities throughout their lives and careers.

As democracies and societies become increasingly complex, education for civic engagement becomes ever more critical. It should not be confined to government or civics classes but should be available to all students in all areas of study. Civic engagement education can provide students with the knowledge, skills, values, and confidence they need to be active, engaged citizens who make a meaningful difference in their communities.

Building on the 2013 book Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen, this book advances the conversation on civic engagement and provides critical scholarly insight into where to go next.

Read the book online here!

Read a book review by Melanie Nichole Burdick of Washburn University here!