What is Civic Engagement?

Resource:  American Psychological Association. Civic Engagement.  Retrieved June, 2016 from http://www.apa.org/education/undergrad/civic-engagement.aspx   

The term "civic engagement" is not commonly used among psychologists, yet the focus on work for the common good is central to most of the divisions of APA. Civic engagement is at the forefront of many APA initiatives. Psychologists and psychology educators are leading efforts to address serious societal concerns. Their work can be found in many settings addressing a broad cross secton of society.  

Service-learning and civic engagement are not the same thing in the sense that not all service-learning has a civic dimension and not all civic engagement is service-learning. For definition's sake, civic engagement is the broader motif, encompassing service-learning but not limited to it. One useful definition of civic engagement is the following: individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern. Civic engagement can take many forms, from individual voluntarism to organizational involvement to electoral participation. It can include efforts to directly address an issue, work with others in a community to solve a problem or interact with the institutions of representative democracy. Civic engagement encompasses a range of specific activities such as working in a soup kitchen, serving a neighborhood association, writing a letter to an elected official, or voting. Indeed, an underlying principal of APA's approach is that an engaged citizen should have the ability, agency, and opportunity to move comfortably among these various types of civic acts.