ERIC Number: ED455080
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001-May
Reference Count: N/A
Strengthening Civic Engagement in Community Decision-Making.
King, Betty S.; Hustedde, Ron
Rural South: Preparing for the Challenges of the 21st Century, n19 May 2001
Citizen engagement is important for preserving a prosperous democracy and keeping elected officials accountable to their constituents. New issues affecting rural citizens are causing communities to reframe and ask new planning questions. Two approaches to citizen engagement are asset mapping, in which communities focus on their strengths and resources instead of problems and deficiencies, and systems thinking, which considers how the interdependence of issues affects whole systems. Barriers to citizen involvement include a lack of trust in others, a lack of time, subtle racial and economic barriers, feelings that citizen input is not welcome or considered, and community leaders who believe that citizens don't understand community issues and complicate the decision-making process. Institutions that nurture rural civic engagement are the cooperative extension services and leadership programs sponsored by local chambers of commerce and other organizations. Recommendations for increasing citizen engagement include clarifying Cooperative Extension Service policy about the nature of leadership and civic engagement work and its significance in the broader mission of building citizen capacity; expanding diversity, not just in numbers or parity of participation by race or gender, but organizationally and ideologically; directing more leadership development efforts in the rural South toward those with limited incomes and diverse racial, ethnic, and ideological backgrounds; developing and strengthening urban-rural relationships; and continuing the role of academic institutions in building citizen engagement. (Contains 12 references.) (TD)
Descriptors: Citizen Participation, Community Cooperation, Cooperative Planning, Economic Development, Extension Education, Holistic Approach, Leadership Training, Participative Decision Making, Rural Areas, Sustainable Development, Systems Approach
For full text: http://ext.msstate.edu/srdc/publications/millennium.htm.
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serials; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Economic Research Service (USDA), Washington, DC.; Kentucky Univ., Lexington. TVA Rural Studies Program.; Farm Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Authoring Institution: Southern Rural Development Center, Mississippi State, MS.