When I spent two weeks back home in the Boston area, I did more than just catch the Sox at Fenway and get inked (ahem). I spent that two weeks discussing civic work, civic life, and civic education with like minded folks from across the globe. As part of that discussion, we talked about ways in which we can create a sense of engagement among citizens, how community is formed and works, the role of the commons in civic life, and how we as educators and passionate citizens engage in the practice of civic work (among many many other things). Very recently, it has come to my attention that my colleague at the Bob Graham Center, Dr. Emma K. Humphries, is collaborating with Dr. Melissa Johnson, Associate Director of UF’s Honors Programs in implementing a brand new course that works with college students to:
• Familiarize themselves with the new city in which they live;
• Be a champion for the common good;
• Realize the power of individual and group action;
• Tackle real community problems by looking for creative solutions, using available resources, collaborating with others, and taking risks; and
• Reflect upon and evaluate methods for civic activism.
This is, I think, an exciting opportunity to engage new college students in the civic life of their new communities. To paraphrase their course syllabus, isn’t it better to get involved with your community, to engage in civic life, than to sit around and watch Netflix all summer? (The answer is Yes. Please say the answer is Yes.) I encourage you to take a look at the course syllabus below, and I know that Emma would love to hear from you if you have questions or comments about the course. I have asked her to do a reflective post for us at the end of the summer about the course and how it went, and the role that civics can play in the lives of college students. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could do something like this long term at the K-12 level? Imagine a course like this that scaffolds with students from Kindergarten through High School!