About Civic Leadership
Freedom and Citizenship is a full year program, and students should join if they're passionate about making a difference in their communities.
Questions and Answers about Civic Leadership
- What are the goals of the project?
- The civic curriculum is designed to provide our students with the personal, civic, and academic skills necessary to become engaged and active citizens. Your group may not solve the social problems you identify this year, but you will develop the experience necessary to lead the way on civic issues in the future. The goal is not to create great presentations for Civic Night but to create great citizens.
- What is the Civic Leadership project?
- After the summer, students return to Columbia's campus twice a month to work in small groups on civic leadership projects. Students are led by undergraduate teaching assistants in selecting an issue they care about, researching it, and calling others to action on that issue.
- Why civic leadership?
- We believe citizenship is a verb: it is a practice of engagement available to anyone in a community regardless of legal status, age, or ability. The action of citizenship goes beyond recognizing injustices or educating and “raising awareness” about societal problems: it means doing things that can lead to direct change. After spending a summer learning about the origins of freedom and citizenship, we are now embarking on a yearlong curriculum designed to help us become leaders in active citizenship.
- How do you accomplish this?
- Each group will create a “call to action” that informs young people about a civic problem and offers them a method of actively pursuing change. The foundations for this project rest on three pillars: (1) Students will become informed by learning about the issue, its origins, and its effects in society; (2) Students will become engaged in the broader conversation around the issue by connecting with other activists and contacting politicians; (3) Students will become active by identifying opportunities for producing civic change. While TAs will guide their students through the three pillars of civic engagement, it is the students’ responsibility to carry out the project.
- What is the time commitment?
- Students should expect to come to Columbia for two-hour-long civic meetings every other week from September through April. Meetings are typically held in the evenings, around 5-7pm.
- What skills will we gain?
- You'll gain personal skills of self advocacy, leadership, professionalism, civic skills of community organizing, cooperation, problem solving, and academic skills of critical thinking, research literacy, and writing