Civic Engagement

Definition: Civic engagement is defined as individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern. Civic engagement can take many forms, from individual volunteerism to organizational involvement to electoral participation. It can include efforts to directly address an issue, work with others in a community to solve a problem or interact with the institutions of representative democracy (American Psychological Association).

Why is this issue important?

  • In the 2018 mid-term elections, over 2 million North Carolinians voted (News & Observer).
  • Early voter turnout dropped from 42.6% in the 2016 presidential election to 25.6% in the 2018 mid-term election in Alamance County (News Observer).
  • 80% of surveyed Americans agree that the nation is highly divided in terms of political beliefs (NBC news).
  • 7 in 10 Americans feel negatively about what is going on in the country politically today.
  • Less than one-quarter of Americans feel positive emotions, including less than one in five who say they are hopeful and six percent who say are content (Public Religion Research Institute).
  • Approximately 31% of eligible young people voted in the 2018 mid-term elections, which is the highest level of youth participating in a midterm cycle in at least the last 25 years (Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement).

Opportunities for Involvement

Elon Votes

Elon Votes! is a nonpartisan campus initiative created to provide students with the necessary resources to register to vote and learn about issues at stake in upcoming elections. Volunteer to help increase civic engagement on campus. Email for more information.


Dialogues are opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to gather together to exchange diverse views and experiences to seek a shared understanding of a challenge facing our society and to search for common ground for action. For more information emailĀ

Sampling Of Elon Courses Related To This Issue

For more information on these courses listed, view the Elon Course Catalog.

  • Human Service Studies 311: Social Policy and Inequality
  • Political Science 111: American Government
  • Political Science 161: Comparative Politics
  • Political Science 222: State and Local Government/Politics
  • Political Science 270: Civic & Political Engagement
  • Communications 310: Reporting for Public Good

Questions For Reflection

  • What social issues play into civic engagement?
  • What political issues matter to you? How can you be civically active in relation to those topics?
  • How are individuals or groups working to increase civic engagement locally and nationally?
  • How can students use the knowledge and skills they are gaining in college to be civically active?
  • What can Elon do to improve knowledge and discussion civic engagement on its campus?
  • How are you civically active? What methods could you use to increase your civic activity?
  • How can you work with others to discuss difficult topics?
  • What are the challenges to being civically active? How can you overcome these challenges?