Americans have lost confidence in our political institutions as well as losing confidence in each other. Poll results show that Americans have the lowest levels of trust in their fellow citizens and these levels have been declining precipitously. Regardless of who we elect and which policies are implemented and regardless of our partisan leanings, we have become increasingly disillusioned, cynical and apathetic while problems continue to fester and grow. It seems to many people that those in charge are either incompetent, impotent, ignorant, in someone’s pocket, or some combination. Yet, the problems in democracy and their seeming intractability are most likely a problem of democracy.
In 1947, the Truman Commission released its recommendations, stating "higher education shall take its proper place in our national effort to strengthen democracy at home." The fundamental recommendation of the commission was to establish a network of public Community Colleges to provide higher education to "all youth who can profit from such education" and "[T]he first and most essential charge upon higher education is that at all levels and in all its fields of specialization, it shall be the carrier of democratic values, ideals, and process." For too many years, institutions of higher education have given short shrift to their democratic mission and the results are showing.
The Center for Civic Engagement at Lone Star College has taken the democratic mission of higher education to heart. At the Center, we seek to develop two crucial skills through our curricular and co-curricular programing: first, a sense of agency and power; and second, the skills of deliberation. If our students see themselves as powerful actors who can talk about complex issues, then they will be more effective citizens and students.
"Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and nonpolitical processes." (Ehrlich, 2000) It teaches many different executive skills such as: grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity. These skills aid students well into the future as they finish degrees and enter the workforce.
Whether a student is looking to transfer to a four-year university or looking to join the workforce after attending Lone Star College, being involved in civic activities helps prepare them for life after Lone Star College. As a Lone Star College Promise Scholarship recipient, you have an opportunity to participate in Civic Engagement programming in an important way. Each LSC-Promise Scholarship recipient will receive an e-mail in August with the dates and times for LSC-Promise civic engagement orientations. There will be multiple orientation opportunities on each campus to familiarize you with opportunities to fulfill your civic engagement scholarship requirement. On this information sheet, you will find a list of the types of activities that are available to reach your 15 hour requirement.
The following represents a partial list of the types of activities that will fulfill the civic engagement requirement for LSC-Promise scholars.
Public Achievement is a youth civic engagement initiative focused on the most basic concepts of citizenship, democracy, and public work. Public Achievement draws on the talents and desires of ordinary people to build a better world and to create a different kind of politics. (Offered through GOVT and HIST classes)
Speakers, Movies, and Forums
Participate in public events such as speakers, author talks, movies, forums, and workshops on a variety of topics. Some of the topics revolve around the social sciences, the arts, humanities, community problems, national issues, financial literacy, and many others.
Lone Star College hosts candidate forums where you can meet candidates running for office. The 2016 elections cycle will provide a full slate of forums for students to attend and help run. In addition, you may choose to become a voter registrar and help register students to vote and work on "Get out the Vote" drives such as "Walk the Vote."
Deliberative Dialogues provide a way for community members of diverse views and experiences to seek a shared understanding of a problem and to search for common ground for action. Dialogues are led by trained moderators, and use an issue discussion guide that frames the issue by presenting the overall problem followed by three or four broad approaches to the problem. Dialogue participants work through the issue by considering each approach; examining what appeals to them or concerns them; and also what costs, consequences, and tradeoffs may be incurred in following that approach.
Alternative Spring Break provides students with the opportunity to work on educational and service-oriented projects with community-based organizations over the course of their spring break. Through the program, students learn about different social issues such as poverty, immigration, homelessness, and inequality by engaging themselves directly with the work of organizations that address these challenges. You can plan and lead these trips working alongside faculty.
Service-Learning is an experiential learning component to a student’s educational program which weds academic concepts with a real civic experiences. The goal is to advance the student’s knowledge of course materials through the hands-on use of course knowledge in the community. Service-Learning has a critical reflective component linking civic responsibility to the course content.
The Human Library seeks to challenge prejudice by facilitating a conversation between two people: Books and Readers. Living Books often have personal experiences or social exclusion that they are willing to share with Readers. You can help plan this event or volunteer to make sure it is executed smoothly.
the BCBF is a city-wide festival that will be held on our campuses in the spring. Authors from around the country speak with attendees about their books in every genre imaginable. Students can serve as volunteers to introduce authors and ensure the festival runs smoothly.
Service and Projects
Each campus has additional service projects such as the Hunger Banquet, Learning Garden, Wetlands, Poverty Week, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF or the Tap Project for UNICEF in which students can play a leadership role.