Thursday, January 11, 2018: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Marquis BR Salon 14 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Communities and Neighborhoods
Nicole Nicotera, PhD, University of Denver
Amanda Moore-McBride, University of Denver
Civic engagement is well-known as an important tool for creating social and political change. Scholars have proposed that civic engagement is also integral to well-being. For example, Learner (2004) added a sixth C, Contribution to the 5 C's of positive youth development, endorsing civic contribution as an important ingredient for thriving. Still other scholars opine the association between civic engagement and positive attitudes toward diversity and commitment to social justice (Torney-Purta, 2002). This symposium addresses three aspects of civic engagement in emerging adults attending undergraduate institutions: how definitions of social justice shape activity choices of undergraduate students, how attitudes toward diversity influence political engagement, and how civic engagement influences well-being. Paper one examines how undergraduate students' definitions of social justice influence the type of activities they choose and the role of critical service learning curriculum in fostering lifelong activism. Paper two addresses the relationship between undergraduate's openness to diversity and their behaviors as political change agents. Paper three examines civic engagement as a predictor of college self-efficacy and flourishing.
Taken together, the three research studies extend views of civic engagement as a tool for social and political change by connecting it to the development of positive attitudes toward social justice, fostering well-being among undergraduate students, and engaging emerging adults as agents of political change. Civic engagement is integral to democracy and is especially relevant in the current political landscape. This symposium demonstrates that civic engagement is not only a tool for democracy, but that it is directly linked with attitudes toward diversity and social justice, as well as with healthy development of emerging adults. It also illustrates the role that institutions of higher education can play in helping to shape students' behaviors as change agents. As social workers endeavor to stem the tide of the current political and policy environment, the inclusion of emerging adults in these efforts can capitalize on civic engagement to do double duty; effecting change in systems as well as in emerging adults.
* noted as presenting author