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ERIC Number: EJ905397
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 29
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 59
ISSN: ISSN-1534-6102
The Devil Is in the Details: Defining Civic Engagement
Brabant, Margaret; Braid, Donald
Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, v13 n2 p59-87 2009
For "civic engagement" work to have meaningful and long-term impact upon students, partners, and postsecondary institutions, each institution must undertake the difficult work of defining civic engagement for itself such that the definition aligns with the institution's educational mission and local context. We argue that civic engagement is inherently political and that definitional dilemmas have arisen from the conflation of the terms "service-learning" and "civic engagement." Here we present lessons we have learned from using service-learning to teach citizenship and applying essentially political definitions about "community" and how "citizens" should behave, and offer insights from an extended community-building project that we analyze for its revelations concerning universities' and communities' limited capacities for undertaking long-term civic engagement projects. We conclude by placing the problem of definition in a broader context of issues regarding cost and other limitations universities still need to consider to achieve and sustain civic engagement. (Contains 13 endnotes.)
Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, University of Georgia and the Institute of Higher Education. Treanor House, 1234 South Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA 30602. Tel: 706-542-6167; Fax: 706-542-6124; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Indiana