COVID-19 resources | Our faculty and staff are committed to providing you an exceptional learning experience this September.

Civic Engagement

While a university education usually leads to better career prospects, that is not the only benefit it brings to individuals or to society. Beyond our own curiosity and passion about a particular subject, and our own career prospects, Liberal Education encourages us to think about the broader uses of our knowledge and skills, and about how we can make the world better. This means being engaged in our communities, at all levels from the local to the global, including as citizens.
 
This idea of education for citizenship goes back to the ancient Greeks. What has changed is the scope of that citizenship: when the Greeks and Romans thought about the best form of government and citizenship, they thought in terms of the city-state, and of course they excluded women, and slaves, and “barbarians” (non-Greeks) from their citizenship. It was only centuries later, starting with the Enlightenment and the American and French Revolutions and continuing on into the 20th century, that we have extended our concept of citizen to be much more inclusive. And indeed we now talk about a global society, and global citizenship, and about basic HUMAN rights as enshrined by the United Nations for instance.
 
Thus a basic question to consider is what it means to be a good citizen, of our country and of our world, in the early 21st century. Liberal Education advocates for two responses: first we that we make informed decisions, based insofar as possible on evidence and reasoning; and secondly that we make decisions based not on narrow self-interest, but on careful consideration of what is good for the group.

 

Martha Nussbaum argues eloquently for the kind of thinkers we need in our modern world, identifying three abilities crucial for citizenship in a pluralistic, democratic society enmeshed in a globalized world: the capacity for Socratic self- criticism and critical thought about one’s own traditions; the ability to see oneself as a member of a heterogeneous nation and world; and the ability to sympathetically imagine the lives of people different from oneself.

 

“Democracy needs citizens who can think for themselves rather than deferring to authority and who can reason together about their choices rather than simply trading claims and counterclaims.”

- Nussbaum quoting Socrates

Definition 

Civic Engagement: encourages students to be contributing community members on all levels, and to participate in the running and advocating of those communities.

For opportunies check out our Uvolunteer page, connect with Volunteer Lethbridge, and/or take initiative to start something that you are passionate about.

Civic engagement is the last of the pillars and the culmination of the first three. The four pillars are all significant to Liberal Education, but the hope is to eventually reach civic engagement and give back. Using the breadth of knowldege acquired and connecting disciplines together while critically evaluating them is done for personal growth, but more importantly so that we become better global citizens. Global alludes to the whole world, especially with the developing technologies and opportunities out there, but also refers to our role within our country, province, and more specifically the city we live in. Throughout and thereafter a liberal education, engaging within one's community, whether locally or globally, is the perfect route to use all the skills and competencies of the four pillar model. Hands on experience, through our contribution to society, will further these skills. 

 

Civic Engagement Articles 

Below are articles that specifically tie into the civic engagement pillar. There is a variety of content, opinions, and positions throughout these articles. This is a good place to start looking through resources for the essay that needs to be written as well as a place for the curious eye to wander and catch an interesting article to read.  

Civic Engagement Skills and Competencies

  • Understanding complex social issues from multiple viewpoints
  • Questioning mind, curiosity
  • Ability to work toward public good
  • Making informed and evidence-based decisions
  • Leadership skills
  • Using global perspectives
  • Engaging difference
  • Transcultural understanding