Definitions of Civic Engagement

There are multiple ways of defining civic engagement, based on one's unit of analysis.  For example, how one define's student civic engagement will differ from how one defines faculty civic engagement, which also differs from how one defines institutional civic engagement.  At the faculty level, civic engagement should be linked to faculty roles of teaching, scholarship, and service.  Consequently, one way of defining civic engagement for faculty is teaching, scholarship, and service that contribute to public purposes and serve the common good.  Such a definition is consistent with former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Hans Kolvenbach's, S.J., insight that, "The faculty's 'research, which must be rationally rigorous, firmly rooted in faith and open to dialogue with all people of good will,' not only obeys the canons of each discipline, but ultimately embraces human reality in order to help make the world a more fitting place for six billion of us to inhabit. I want to affirm that university knowledge is valuable for its own sake and at the same time is knowledge that must ask itself, "For whom? For what?""

It is also helpful for civically engaged faculty to think of their work in the context of institutional definitions of civic engagement.  Below are links to a few influential statements on civic engagement in higher education.

•    Campus Compact Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education
•    Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Elective Classification in Community Engagement
•    Wingspread Declaration on Renewing the Civic Mission of the American Research University

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