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Civic Engagement Centers and Institutes: Promising Routes for Teaching Lessons in Citizenship to Students of All Disciplines

Chapter 21: Civic Engagement Centers and Institutes: Promising Routes for Teaching Lessons in Citizenship to Students of All Disciplines

by Elizabeth C. Matto, George Washington University and Mary McHughMerrimack College

More and more, colleges and universities are turning to civic engagement centers and institutes to facilitate civic engagement education.  These stand-alone units are woven into the campus culture and accessible to faculty and students of all disciplines.  In this chapter, Elizabeth C. Matto and Mary McHugh identify a number of centers and institutes situated on campuses recognized for their commitment to civic engagement, explore the structural features they share, and link readers to a number of useful resources such as syllabi and assessments. Occasionally, faculty who would like to include civic engagement opportunities in their courses are hesitant to do so. Challenges such as finding the appropriate projects and contacts and integrating activities into the classroom create obstacles that faculty might find daunting and time-consuming. This chapter serves then as a useful guide for faculty of all disciplines who want to go about civic engagement education and might encourage readers to make use of the civic engagement centers and institutes that exist on their own campuses or provide examples for establishing one.

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About the Authors

Elizabeth C. Matto is an Assistant Research Professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics and the Director of the Institute’s Center for Youth Political Participation (CYPP). She earned her doctorate in American Politics at George Washington University and, prior to her work at Eagleton, taught a variety of courses at Princeton University, Temple University, and George Washington University. As director of CYPP, Matto leads research as well as educational and public service efforts designed to encourage and support the political learning of high school and college students and civic action among young adults. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Craig L. Brians Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research & Mentorship by the American Political Science Association. 

Mary McHugh is the Executive Director of the Stevens Service Learning Center and adjunct faculty member in the Political Science Department at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. She teaches a variety of classes in U.S. politics and American political Institutions. McHugh earned an M.A. in political science from Boston College, a BA in government and history from Colby College and is currently working on her dissertation. Her research interests include examining how experiential learning affects and enhances student learning.

Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines / Copyright ©2017 by the American Political Science Association