Civic Engagement

"Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.

"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."

from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich


Compiled by:
Elizabeth
Better Together: Restoring the American Community

Robert Putnam, Lewis M. Feldstein
306.0973 Pu

A follow-up to Bowling Alone, Putnam detects hopeful signs of civic renewal.  Better Together examines how people across the country are inventing new forms of social activism and community renewal. As our society grows increasingly diverse, say the authors, it's more important than ever to grow "social capital," whether by traditional or more innovative means. The people profiled in Better Together are doing just that, and their stories illustrate the extraordinary power of social networks for enabling people to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.


Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community

Robert D. Putnam
306.0973 Put

Drawing on vast new data that reveals American’s changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures, whether they be PTA, church, or political parties, have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe. Putnam has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.


The Citizen Solution: How You Can Make a Difference

Harry Chatten Boyte
323.042 Boy

Nationally known community organizer and activist Harry C. Boyte incites readers to join today's "citizen movement," offering practical tools for how we can change the face of America by focusing on issues close to home. Targeting useful techniques for individuals to raise public consciousness and effectively motivate community-based groups, Boyte grounds his arguments in the country's tradition of "populism," demonstrating how mobilized citizens can be far more powerful than our frequently paralyzed politicians. He then offers practical tips on identifying potential citizen leaders and working through cultural differences without sacrificing identities.


Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World

Jonathan M. Tisch
361.2 Tis

A key member of one of New York’s  most civic-minded families—one that has supported many of America’s  notable institutions and deserving programs—Jonathan Tisch has devoted a lifetime to “active citizenship.” It’s an idea that uses the power of practical creativity and grassroots participation to solve seemingly intractable problems. In Citizen You, Tisch challenges readers to join this movement and points the way toward making our world a better place, one person and one neighborhood at a time.


Engaging Young People in Civic Life

James Youniss, Peter Levine
323.042 Eng

The myth of generations of disengaged youth has been shattered by increases in youth turnout in the 2004, 2006, and 2008 primaries. Young Americans are responsive to effective outreach efforts, and these essays address how to best provide opportunities for enhancing civic learning and forming lasting civic identities. Included are chapters on schools in poor communities that tend to overlook civic education, reports on how two city governments have invited youth to participate on boards and in agencies and the civic education programs in Canada and Western Europe, where, as in the United States, immigration and income inequality raise challenges to civic life.


Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home

Susan Clark, Woden Teachout
321.8 Cla

Slow Democracy chronicles the ways in which ordinary people have mobilized to find local solutions to local problems. It invites us to bring the advantages of "slow" to our community decision making. Just as slow food encourages chefs and eaters to become more intimately involved with the production of local food, slow democracy encourages us to govern ourselves locally with processes that are inclusive, deliberative, and citizen powered. The authors outline the qualities of real, local decision making and show us the range of ways that communities are breathing new life into participatory democracy around the country.


The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America

Tom Brokaw
973.932 Bro

Rooted in the values and lessons of generations past and of his South Dakota upbringing, Brokaw weaves together inspiring stories of Americans who are making a difference, as well as personal stories from his own family history, to engage us in a conversation about our country and to share ideas for how we can revitalize the promise of the American Dream. Inviting us to foster a rebirth of family, community, and civic engagement as profound as the one that helped win World War II, built our postwar prosperity, and ushered in the Civil Rights era, Brokaw gives us a nourishing vision of hopefulness in an age of diminished expectations.