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Membership and civic engagement

Civic engagement, just another buzzword?

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You may have heard the term civic engagement being tossed around.  It may seem obvious, but what does it actually mean?  Is it something anyone can do or is it reserved for the politically savvy?  I’m here to let you know more about what we mean by civic engagement and just how you can participate!

 

According to Adler and Goggin (2005), “civic engagement refers to the ways in which citizens participate in the life of a community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape the community’s future” (p. 236).  In other words, getting involved in your community is a form of civic engagement because it has the potential to make a difference and improve the lives of community members.  It is also a very broad concept.  For example, traditional forms of civic engagement might include voting in an election or joining a Neighbourhood Life committee.  However, not everyone is 18 years old or the time to join a committee.  Alternatives might include volunteering at a local organization, or participating in a fundraiser.  In a time like today, when the pandemic has seriously affected the wellbeing of communities, there are all types of new ways to contribute to your neighbourhood virtually as well.  Some residents have helped phone isolated residents to check in.  Others have created Facebook groups where people can connect and help deliver groceries, hand out protective wear and give advice on challenging issues.  There is no single way to participate in civic engagement, what matters is that there is an emphasis on improving the community and supporting community members.

 

The term civic engagement has a ring to it that implies a certain level of politics, long term commitment and intensity.  Yet it just means that you contribute in any way (big or small, once or often) to the improvement of your community.  Just by reading this article, you are educating yourself on how to get more involved.  Don’t be afraid to use this term and jump right into taking action!

 

Have more questions or looking for more ways to get involved?  Email us at benevolat@petermcgill.org

 

Sources

Adler, R. P., & Goggin, J. (2005). What Do We Mean By “Civic Engagement”? Journal of 

Transformative Education, 3(3), 236–253.

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