GWCH Chapter 2: What is Civic Honors?

The idea of civic honors is for the community to be able to acknowledge those individuals who are active participants within the community.

The current design of the graduation with civic honors program requires implementation by a university to bridge academics and involvement in community. The implementation of this idea involves connecting education to society, first at the university level, then at the national level by replication of the program. A positive underlying message of the graduation with civic honors program is the possibility to spread change within the community. Graduation with civic honors can become a part of the very fabric of the community. The program is inherently sounding the call for individuals to play a larger role in fulfilling the needs of the community by finding not only organizations that they feel benefit the community, but also organizations with which program members want to work. The program begins with the college providing the opportunity for individuals to volunteer within the community and by providing an accurate list and descriptions of opportunities that will allow these individuals to find opportunities that resonate with them.

Graduation with civic honors provides a platform for a message about the opportunities to work with the community. The first step is speaking to individuals, organizations, and universities that have the potential to develop vibrant graduation with civic honors programs. The message is about what is possible within the community and how to use technology to bring people together. A graduation with civic honors program strives to create a positive message about the potential of community. Replication is imperative for success. Graduation with civic honors can be more than a program at one university in one community; it should expand to society in general.

It is critical to be aware that resistance to change may occur as a response to changes to traditional ways individuals become involved in the community. This is critical during the early development of the program (Osborne & Gaebler, 1992) but may continue to be an issue. A goal of the program is to work within the community without regard for politics but for the benefit of the society, drawing out the civility or the virtue of citizens to enhance society (Rouner, 2000). The program allows citizens to develop a strong sense of community while empowering them with the belief that action is possible. The process creates a model of proactive behavior that enhances volunteering within the community (Bell, 1999).

The graduation with civic honors concept relies on the university as a principle source for implementing and designing the civic honors program. It is possible for any college to implement and design the program. This does not mean that universities are the only organizations within the community that can be the instruments for change to develop their own civic honors programs. Therefore, during the formative period, the discussion at a university also could be a model for organizations in local and regional networks. The positive nature of the message that the civic honors programs can spread does not exclude any actor or organizations from participation. Collaboration and inclusion is the basic assumption that will enable community building in any community and develop a stronger society as a whole. The discussion of civic society in America does not rely on the assumption that civil society is inherent to democratization. Organizations within the community are capable of broadening the concept of civil society in a way that really can benefit the community (Stanton, 1999).


GWCH Chapter 1: What is Civic Engagement?

Society has experienced a true revival of public interest in civic engagement.

Robert Putnam’s (2000) epic work Bowling Alone brought the idea of civic participation to the forefront of the public mind. The value of civic participation is essential to the process of value implementation in the form of civic engagement. Civic engagement is a value choice, and the implementation of that value choice is individual civic participation in the community. One of the most basic definitions of civic engagement involves thinking about how government, society, and citizens interact. In terms of how scholars discuss civic engagement, the definition takes on a benevolent feel, referencing citizen activities that benefit civil society. Strengthening civic engagement, in practice, involves building civic skills, increasing active voter participation, and using public service announcements to encourage volunteering to strengthen civil society. Watershed events like 9-11 have created a reflective sense of national interest and significantly increased the willingness of individuals to participate in civic engagement.

The best way to describe civic engagement is to take a step back from current views and look from the perspective of the potential benefits that higher civic engagement provides society. Civic engagement is increasing civic participation by encouraging participation in civil society. That participation could come in the form of volunteering, campaigning, or even discussing community issues with neighbors. Increasing civic participation through civic engagement breaks down the disconnect between individuals and the community. Robert Putnam (2000) clearly made the case that individuals within modern society largely have replaced community activities with social isolation. Helping to break down the disconnect between the individual and the community is valuable to strengthening the community. Reciprocally, strengthening the community through civic engagement increases the amount of active participation within the community.

How does one spread the ethic of civic engagement? Civic engagement has to come from fostering strong community leadership from both professionals and community organization leaders. These leaders give the community a significant advantage by creating a long-term vision for increasing civic engagement. Civic participation through active civic engagement can involve spreading the ethic of volunteerism. Allowing individuals to work for community organizations is an important part of growing the capacity and size of civic engagement within the community.

Defining civic engagement in terms of communities involves identifying three different types of communities. We have communities of place, idea, and circumstance. Individuals can participate in issues associated with the place where they live as a form of civic participation based on engaging in core issues that determine the structure of the community. Neighborhood groups have the potential to facilitate civic engagement by offering a venue for civic participation in the community. Civic engagement also can be fostered by communities of ideas where individuals within the community can come together to participate in dialogue and action about specific issues. Civic engagement surrounding communities of circumstance often focuses on volunteering and resolving community-oriented problems.

Now is the time to move forward to increase civic engagement within civil society. Civic engagement is a most important emerging value because of its potential to strengthen the social fabric and the community as a whole. Programs like graduation with civic honors can encourage practical solutions to increasing civic engagement like emphasizing the necessity of recognizing a commitment to civic engagement. Graduation with civic honors is a way to institutionalize the encouragement of civic engagement through official and public recognition. Society should recognize that academic achievement and civic engagement go hand in hand. For higher education to benefit society, educators cannot merely educate people. Educators must strive to educate people to become good citizens. Building a good society fosters a community that encourages collaboration and engagement from every citizen within society.

Higher education is the key to moving forward as a society. We have to be able to educate future generations about the importance of civic engagement. Being able to inform future generations of the potential benefits of increasing civic engagement through encouraging volunteering and civic participation is essential to building a stronger society. Civic engagement truly is the ability of an individual to be a vibrant part of the community by participating in the betterment of society. However, devising practical ideas that can encourage civic engagement is more difficult than it sounds. That is why high-reward, low-cost solutions like graduation with civic honors can bring civic engagement to the forefront of higher education.

Currently, the Civic Honors Project lobbies to spread the word about graduation with civic honors and strives to work and collaborate with organizations that have an impact on the community. The current graduation with civic honors initiative focuses on identifying potential avenues for expanding the number of higher education institutions offering graduation with civic honors.


The Graduation With Civic Honors Story

Believing in a dream like graduation with civic honors is only the first step in the process toward advocating the creation of a graduation with civic honors program.

The story behind graduation with civic honors began in an academic setting during the spring semester of 2002 at the University of Kansas. I took a class from Dr. H. George Frederickson entitled Concepts of Civil Society. During the Concepts of Civil Society class, my collegiate interests focused on civic engagement. At one point during the class, Dr. Frederickson posed a question to the class about what colleges could do to get people involved within the community. Over the course of the next year thinking about the idea of civil society, I became interested in pursuing a degree in the field of public administration. Thanks to the faculty of the Public Administration Department at the University of Kansas, I decided to endeavor to enter graduate school. I would like to thank Dr. Raymond Davis for advice and guidance, Dr. Thomas Longoria for defining the importance of collaboration, and Dr. H. George Frederickson for a thoughtful introduction to the world of civil society.

Graduation with civic honors was only a dream until late in 2002. Dr. Charles J. Carlsen, the president of Johnson County Community College, learned of the idea from Susan Lindahl and, along with the board of trustees and civic honors steering committee, envisioned becoming the first community college in the state of Kansas to designate a graduation with civic honors. In 2004, after Johnson County Community College developed the initial graduation with civic honors pilot program, the next step was to start spreading the graduation with civic honors message. I was honored to submit an article with Dr. Charles J. Carlsen and Susan Lindahl entitled, “Civic Honors Program at Johnson County Community College,” to the Journal for Civic Commitment for publication. The resulting publication (Carlsen, Lindahl, & Lindahl, 2004) was the first step toward globally sharing the positive message of graduation with civic honors.

To realize the dream, students actually would have to graduate with civic honors. During the May 2005 graduation at Johnson County Community College, the dream became a reality when four students—including Deborah DeGrate, Carrie Donham, Chris Engle, and Jennifer Pittman-Leeper—were the first to graduate with civic honors. The story will be complete when students all over the world are graduating with civic honors.

 

Civic Honors Scholarship at OCCC Announced

A new civic honors scholarship was recently announced at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC). The official news release noted, “The Dr. Marion Paden Distinguished Leadership Award will, for the first time this spring, recognize an OCCC Civic Honors student who demonstrates academic excellence, outstanding campus involvement and quality commitment to service in the Oklahoma City community.” Congratulations to everyone at OCCC for setting a great standard for civic engagement and service learning.

What is Civic Honors?

The idea of civic honors is for the community to be able to acknowledge those individuals who are active participants within the community.

The current design of the graduation with civic honors program requires implementation by a university to bridge academics and involvement in community. The implementation of this idea involves connecting education to society, first at the university level, then at the national level by replication of the program. A positive underlying message of the graduation with civic honors program is the possibility to spread change within the community. Graduation with civic honors can become a part of the very fabric of the community. The program is inherently sounding the call for individuals to play a larger role in fulfilling the needs of the community by finding not only organizations that they feel benefit the community, but also organizations with which program members want to work. The program begins with the college providing the opportunity for individuals to volunteer within the community and by providing an accurate list and descriptions of opportunities that will allow these individuals to find opportunities that resonate with them.

Graduation with civic honors provides a platform for a message about the opportunities to work with the community. The first step is speaking to individuals, organizations, and universities that have the potential to develop vibrant graduation with civic honors programs. The message is about what is possible within the community and how to use technology to bring people together. A graduation with civic honors program strives to create a positive message about the potential of community. Replication is imperative for success. Graduation with civic honors can be more than a program at one university in one community; it should expand to society in general.

It is critical to be aware that resistance to change may occur as a response to changes to traditional ways individuals become involved in the community. This is critical during the early development of the program (Osborne & Gaebler, 1992) but may continue to be an issue. A goal of the program is to work within the community without regard for politics but for the benefit of the society, drawing out the civility or the virtue of citizens to enhance society (Rouner, 2000). The program allows citizens to develop a strong sense of community while empowering them with the belief that action is possible. The process creates a model of proactive behavior that enhances volunteering within the community (Bell, 1999).

The graduation with civic honors concept relies on the university as a principle source for implementing and designing the civic honors program. It is possible for any college to implement and design the program. This does not mean that universities are the only organizations within the community that can be the instruments for change to develop their own civic honors programs. Therefore, during the formative period, the discussion at a university also could be a model for organizations in local and regional networks. The positive nature of the message that the civic honors programs can spread does not exclude any actor or organizations from participation. Collaboration and inclusion is the basic assumption that will enable community building in any community and develop a stronger society as a whole. The discussion of civic society in America does not rely on the assumption that civil society is inherent to democratization. Organizations within the community are capable of broadening the concept of civil society in a way that really can benefit the community (Stanton, 1999).

Thanks for enjoying this preview chapter of Graduation with Civic Honors! Consider buying the book at Amazon

What is Civic Engagement?

Society has experienced a true revival of public interest in civic engagement.

Robert Putnam’s (2000) epic work Bowling Alone brought the idea of civic participation to the forefront of the public mind. The value of civic participation is essential to the process of value implementation in the form of civic engagement. Civic engagement is a value choice, and the implementation of that value choice is individual civic participation in the community. One of the most basic definitions of civic engagement involves thinking about how government, society, and citizens interact. In terms of how scholars discuss civic engagement, the definition takes on a benevolent feel, referencing citizen activities that benefit civil society. Strengthening civic engagement, in practice, involves building civic skills, increasing active voter participation, and using public service announcements to encourage volunteering to strengthen civil society. Watershed events like 9-11 have created a reflective sense of national interest and significantly increased the willingness of individuals to participate in civic engagement.

The best way to describe civic engagement is to take a step back from current views and look from the perspective of the potential benefits that higher civic engagement provides society. Civic engagement is increasing civic participation by encouraging participation in civil society. That participation could come in the form of volunteering, campaigning, or even discussing community issues with neighbors. Increasing civic participation through civic engagement breaks down the disconnect between individuals and the community. Robert Putnam (2000) clearly made the case that individuals within modern society largely have replaced community activities with social isolation. Helping to break down the disconnect between the individual and the community is valuable to strengthening the community. Reciprocally, strengthening the community through civic engagement increases the amount of active participation within the community.

How does one spread the ethic of civic engagement? Civic engagement has to come from fostering strong community leadership from both professionals and community organization leaders. These leaders give the community a significant advantage by creating a long-term vision for increasing civic engagement. Civic participation through active civic engagement can involve spreading the ethic of volunteerism. Allowing individuals to work for community organizations is an important part of growing the capacity and size of civic engagement within the community.

Defining civic engagement in terms of communities involves identifying three different types of communities. We have communities of place, idea, and circumstance. Individuals can participate in issues associated with the place where they live as a form of civic participation based on engaging in core issues that determine the structure of the community. Neighborhood groups have the potential to facilitate civic engagement by offering a venue for civic participation in the community. Civic engagement also can be fostered by communities of ideas where individuals within the community can come together to participate in dialogue and action about specific issues. Civic engagement surrounding communities of circumstance often focuses on volunteering and resolving community-oriented problems.

Now is the time to move forward to increase civic engagement within civil society. Civic engagement is a most important emerging value because of its potential to strengthen the social fabric and the community as a whole. Programs like graduation with civic honors can encourage practical solutions to increasing civic engagement like emphasizing the necessity of recognizing a commitment to civic engagement. Graduation with civic honors is a way to institutionalize the encouragement of civic engagement through official and public recognition. Society should recognize that academic achievement and civic engagement go hand in hand. For higher education to benefit society, educators cannot merely educate people. Educators must strive to educate people to become good citizens. Building a good society fosters a community that encourages collaboration and engagement from every citizen within society.

Higher education is the key to moving forward as a society. We have to be able to educate future generations about the importance of civic engagement. Being able to inform future generations of the potential benefits of increasing civic engagement through encouraging volunteering and civic participation is essential to building a stronger society. Civic engagement truly is the ability of an individual to be a vibrant part of the community by participating in the betterment of society. However, devising practical ideas that can encourage civic engagement is more difficult than it sounds. That is why high-reward, low-cost solutions like graduation with civic honors can bring civic engagement to the forefront of higher education.

Currently, the Civic Honors Project lobbies to spread the word about graduation with civic honors and strives to work and collaborate with organizations that have an impact on the community. The current graduation with civic honors initiative focuses on identifying potential avenues for expanding the number of higher education institutions offering graduation with civic honors.

Thanks for enjoying this preview chapter of Graduation with Civic Honors! Consider buying the book at Amazon