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What Is More Important to Society: Civic Literacy or Civic Engagement?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Carvis C. Durr
December 11, 2023

As we approach the upcoming election, it is concerning to witness adults displaying immature behavior on social media, spreading false information and engaging in heated arguments. The volume of misinformation is alarming and highlights the importance of staying vigilant and fact-checking everything we encounter to make informed decisions. This raises a crucial question about civic literacy in our society. Do we truly understand the local and global implications of our civic choices as a community?

Our educational system must include teachings on the federal government, its functioning and why elections are significant as a fundamental aspect of the curriculum for every student. Informed and responsible citizens must participate in politics to ensure a well-functioning democracy. In order to comprehend the crucial elements of our federal government, students need to grasp a lot of technical vocabulary and detailed information. This includes the Bill of Rights, the amendment process, the three branches of government, their roles and responsibilities, how our system works and the seven principles of government. In an election year, students must learn about civics and participate in a comprehensive lesson. By engaging in this activity, students can acquire a more profound and assertive understanding of the political system and the crucial role citizens play in it. Students can ask questions, discuss their concerns and explore the impact of their decisions on themselves and their local community and society.

Civics education gives students the tools to become responsible, informed and active citizens. It teaches them to analyze and evaluate information from various sources, think critically and make informed decisions. Furthermore, civics lessons encourage students to take an interest in civic affairs and participate in activities that promote positive change in their communities. A thorough knowledge of civics is essential, but engaging in civic activities is equally important. Students who participate in civics lessons are empowered to take action and make a difference in their communities. They learn about the importance of voting, the need for civic engagement and the role of citizen activism in shaping public policy. Students can make a significant difference in their communities and the world by participating in civics lessons and engaging in civic activities.

Individuals can play a crucial role in addressing the critical social issues that affect their community by actively engaging in civic activities. It is an essential component of responsible citizenship and is vital in shaping and sustaining a healthy and active society. Civic engagement initiatives are diverse and encompass critical issues across various sectors, including family, economy, education, health, environment and politics. Examples of civic engagement activities include but are not limited to, voting, registering to vote, volunteering, participating in community development projects, advocating for social justice and engaging in activism. Civic engagement takes many forms, from individual volunteerism to participating in democratic processes such as town hall meetings, public hearings and referendums. Civic engagement can develop leadership and critical thinking skills while improving communities.

For a thriving democracy, civic engagement and literacy are crucial. Especially when dealing with different races, genders and others from diverse backgrounds. Young people are vital to achieving this through involvement in voting, volunteerism and political activism. By doing so, they can effect positive change in their communities and ensure their voices are heard. Civic literacy, which involves understanding how government and civic institutions operate, is also essential. When young people engage in civic engagement at an early age, they develop a sense of responsibility and dedication to improving their communities. They can become informed and active citizens capable of making a meaningful impact on society.

Moreover, when a diverse range of young people are given opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge and are encouraged to participate in civic affairs, it leads to more inclusive decision-making and stronger communities. The contributions of young people in addressing complex societal issues must be considered. With their fresh perspectives and innovative ideas, they bring a level of confidence and enthusiasm that is essential in tackling these challenges. Empowering young people to participate in civic affairs can create a more vibrant and engaged society better equipped to address future challenges.

Active participation of young people in their communities can significantly strengthen and make them more resilient. Multiple research studies have demonstrated that youth becoming more involved in civic matters can help communities withstand economic downturns and reduce unemployment rates. Moreover, youth engagement can lead to better academic performance and social-emotional well-being. When young people are actively involved in community service and civic activities, they learn valuable skills such as leadership, teamwork and problem-solving, which can help them excel academically. However, despite the benefits of youth engagement, their voices are often ignored, and their unresolved issues can create a vicious cycle of disengagement and neglect, perpetuating injustice. We can help create a more inclusive, just and equitable society by empowering young people and giving them a voice in decision-making processes.

Author: Carvis C. Durr, a Ph.D. student and Graduate Teaching Associate at the University of Central Florida’s School of Sociology and Statistics. Carvis holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration and two Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Leadership/Human Resource Development. Carvis is a member of the Scholar Strategy Network. Follow Carvis on Twitter @Iamcarvis or check out his professional profile on LinkedIn.

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