Political Science Now

Concluding Chapter Summaries: Teaching Engagement Today

Concluding Chapter Summaries: Teaching Engagement Today

by Dick SimpsonUniversity of Illinois at Chicago

Teaching Civic Engagement Today reports on the broad movements supporting teaching civic engagement across disciplines, across campuses, and nationally. To create a climate of civic engagement, it recommends that each campus establish a civic action plan and a core group of faculty, staff, and administrators to implement the plan. Finally, it reviews the progress of the last four years and sets forth a 14-point agenda for the years ahead.

We have had earlier historical periods in which the teaching of civic engagement in colleges and universities flourished. Today, there is a need to extend that teaching to high schools and community colleges as well. However, the push for civic engagement is usually short-lived and then we return to teaching the basics (reading, writing, and arithmetic) or teaching for the job, not teaching for democracy. There is already some resistance and pushback to the movement for civic engagement today and so we need to take advantage of this opportunity to push our agenda forward as far and as fast as we can before support wanes. The current effort to teach civic engagement, not only in political science but across disciplines and throughout the university, is a recent phenomenon. For example, our earlier book, Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen, was only published by APSA in 2013, although there were precursors such as the Carnegie Foundation book, Educating for Democracy: Preparing Undergraduates for Responsible Political Engagement, as well as national organizations engaged in the effort before that time.

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About the Author

Dick Simpson has uniquely combined a distinguished academic career with public service in government. He is a former Chicago alderman and candidate for US Congress.  He has published widely, been an outstanding teacher, and affected public policy. He began his academic career at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1967 where he has taught for 50 years. At UIC he received the highest awards given for teaching and the American Political Science Association (APSA) and Pi Sigma Alpha National Award for Outstanding Teaching. He is a former department head (2006–2012), a previous director of the department’s Preparing Future Faculty program, and currently professor of the political science at UIC.

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