Civic engagement is working to make a difference in the civic life of our community and developing ourselves in order to make that difference. Civic engagement also included furthering the quality of life in our community, through both political and non-political means. Civic engagement happens in many different ways; sometimes it is when individuals volunteer or vote. At other times it is when we, as a community, identify common problems and take action.
At the heart of civic engagement lies the belief that “a morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate” (Ehrlich 2000: xxvi). In short, civic engagement “implies meaningful connections among citizens and among citizens, issues, institutions, and the political system. It implies voice and agency, a feeling of power and effectiveness, with real opportunities to have a say. It implies active participation, with real opportunities to make a difference” (McCoy and Scully 2002: 118).
[REFS: Ehrlich, Thomas (ed.) 2000. Civic Responsibility and Higher Education. Westport, CT: Oryx Press. McCoy, Martha L. and Patrick L. Scully. 2002. Deliberative dialogue to expand civic engagement: What kind of talk does democracy need? National Civic Review 91 (2):117–135.]