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ERIC Number: ED498990
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Aug
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Educating for Democracy. Carnegie Perspectives
Colby, Anne
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Young people in the United States today are much more likely to be involved in volunteer work of an apolitical sort than in politics. As part of a study on political engagement, the author and other colleagues surveyed students at a diversity of colleges and universities and asked them why they and many of their peers are so much more likely to participate in community service than in politics. In both the student interviews and in interviews with college and university faculty who teach for political development, it was observed that students are offered many opportunities to do community service but they perceive very few opportunities and little encouragement to become politically involved. In contrast to encouragement and/or requirement for community service for high school graduation or college acceptance, community service is also incorporated into many college courses. An alternative formulation of motivation and engagement suggests that young people's high levels of involvement in community service, but not politics, is less a story of their natural inclinations and choices and more a story of structures of opportunity and incentives provided by adults. The author and her colleagues urge educators and political organizations to create structured opportunities, offer encouragement, and provide incentives that will lead to more widespread youth political experience. If these experiences are carefully designed and effectively implemented, the young people who take part will develop long-standing habits of participation, richer political knowledge, more effective skills, and a strong sense of themselves as capable, engaged and responsible citizens.
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 51 Vista Lane, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-566-5102; Fax: 650-326-0278; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: High Schools; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, CA.