Though it is no simple matter to integrate civic engagement into an educational process that students usually associate with their individual improvement, this three-part assignment attempts to engage students in recognizing their civic responsibilities and to motivate them toward purposeful behaviors that advance a global civic ethic.
1. Introduction. Introduce students to activism and civic engagement. Identify examples of student civic involvement on campus and in the local community. Ask students to think of people who have made a positive contribution to the community, the cause or issue they were working for and some of the methods or strategies they used.
2. Example Civic Issue Discussion. Write each of the sentences started below on a piece of flip chart paper. Organize students into small groups and distribute markers to each group. Then, give each group one of the sentences and about five minutes to list their ideas. Rotate the sentences until each group has had a time with each. Discuss and summarize the findings.
a. My main environmental worry is….
b. Some ways I take action for the environment are…
c. Some current environmental issues in the local community are…
d. Some major environmental issues in [host country] are…
e. My opinion on the management of [host country’s] natural resources is…
3. Civic Action Case Study. Have students prepare a case study of a civic action initiative happening on campus or in the local community. They are to present the case study in the form of an oral report to the class, in which they identify the name of the initiative, the cause or issue, the methods being used, and the outcomes achieved to date.
4. Civic Action Scrapbook. While abroad, students should collect evidence of civic action initiatives in the host country and then collate them in a civic action scrapbook. For each entry, they should add a caption explaining the particular cause or issue and the methods being used.
5. Civic Action Plan. Each student should identify an issue facing his/her hometown and develop a civic action plan outlining 3-5 steps he/she will take over the next six months to address the issue. Students should comment on potential barriers to implementing the action plan.
6. Optional. Invite a guest speaker from the local council, a government department, community group or grassroots organization to speak to the students on a specific civic issue.
The assignment could be worth up to 30% of the course grade: 10% for each part. The case study should be assessed on the students’ insight into the initiative and analysis of the methods being used. The scrapbook should be assessed on the use of real-life evidence to illustrate various civic action initiatives in the host country. The civic action plan should be assessed on the student’s identification of a pressing issue in his/her hometown and the steps outlined to address the issue.
Two class sessions (pre-departure)