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).


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