Civic Responsibility Definitions

A morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.

– Ehrlich, T. (2000). Civic responsibility and higher education. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx.

Community-Based Learning

Community-based learning is fundamentally an academic endeavor in which engagement in projects and activities takes place through reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnerships with the greater community designed to advance the public good. It is an experiential education approach that involves collaborative relationships, guided by the expertise of professors and community-based practitioners, to combine student learning with community needs as an integrated component of a course. The partnerships between Elon and communities engage students with entities such as nonprofit organizations, schools, government agencies, or locally owned businesses. Under certain circumstances, community-based learning at Elon might also include work on campus that engages the university in a specified capacity and benefits the wider community. At Elon, community-based learning includes the following four tenets:

  • Engagement in projects and activities that are devoted to advancing the public good.
  • Direct or indirect contact between students and the community, requiring preparation for students to gain community engagement skills and an understanding of their civic responsibilities.
  • Activity that is reciprocally beneficial to the community and students and is relevant to course objectives.
  • Structured reflection that enhances student understanding of connections between course content and community engagement.

– Elon University

Community Engagement

Community engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.

– Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Social Innovation

Social innovation is the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress.

Social innovation is not the prerogative or privilege of any organizational form or legal structure. Solutions often require the active collaboration of constituents across government, business, and the nonprofit world.

– Stanford Center for Social Innovation (Soule, Malhotra, and Clavier)

Community-Based Research

Community-Based Research (CBR) is a powerful model of engaged scholarship in which students, faculty, and community members collaborate on research to solve pressing community problems or effect social change. CBR attributes include:

  • Cooperation and communication between all research partners
  • Multiple sources of knowledge
  • Multiple methods of discovery
  • Diverse means for disseminating research finding
  • A commitment to some level of social action

– Stanford University Haas Center

Community-Based Participatory Research

Community-based participatory research is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities.

– W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Health Scholars Program