Friday, September 7, 2007

What does Civic Engagement mean to you?

By: Robert Rodgers

This year Allegheny College will participate in the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) Core Commitments Program, which is designed to educate students on personal and social responsibility through civic and community engagement. This civic engagement program is meant to teach students about their responsibilities as citizens. But what does civic engagement really mean? What responsibilities do we, as students about to enter the work force, need to care about besides getting a job and paying bills? After thinking about this question for quite some time, I decided it would help if I actually wrote down what civic engagement means to me.

When I hear the term “civic engagement,” the first thing that comes to my mind is activism in the community because of a social issue or concern. Civic Engagement involves an individual or group acting on their feelings, usually to create a positive change in the world. Civic Engagement could involve demonstrating against the unethical treatment of animals, or working at a soup kitchen on a Saturday afternoon. We are civically engaged as long as we are out in the community trying to make a positive change, expressing a belief, or simply making the world a better place to live. That is the responsibility we have as citizens in this country. We have been blessed to be able to go to a school like Allegheny where we can grow and mature as adults. It is time to share the gifts we have with others. It is time to interact and help build a better community. Only from being out in the community can we learn what is important to the community. Once we have learned what’s important to the community we can articulate this by voting or setting up neighborhood associations. That is what civic engagement is about. If we really want to make a difference in the world and become a part of a civil society, we must all do our part by being an active, concerned member of the community.

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