Kassidy Aiken mini-course


Navigation Links:

source: https://civicengagement.illinoisstate.edu/faculty-staff/engagement-types/

Overview and Purpose


Welcome to the "Fostering Civic Engagement Through Social Studies" mini-course, where we embark on a transformative journey toward becoming informed, engaged, and proactive citizens. Whether you are an educator seeking effective strategies to inspire your students or an individual eager to enhance your own civic participation, this course is designed with you in mind.

Why Civic Engagement Matters:

Imagine a world where every citizen actively contributes to their community's well-being, where informed and empathetic individuals come together to address pressing issues, and where democracy thrives. Such a vision is not just a dream; it is the result of fostering civic engagement. The importance of this topic cannot be overstated. In today's complex and interconnected world, the challenges we face – from environmental crises to social injustices – demand the collective efforts of informed and engaged citizens.

Who This Course Is For:

This mini-course is tailored for two primary audiences:

1. Educators: If you are an educator, from K-12 to higher education, this course equips you with the knowledge and tools to inspire the next generation of active and responsible citizens. You'll learn effective teaching methods, engaging activities, and strategies to nurture civic-mindedness in your students.

2. Individuals: Are you passionate about making a difference in your community or society at large? This course provides you with the insights and skills needed to become a proactive and informed citizen who can advocate for change and engage in meaningful civic activities.

Course Overview:

Throughout this mini-course, we will explore a wide range of topics and engage in interactive learning experiences, including:

  • Understanding Civic Basics: Delve into the fundamentals of democracy, government structures, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
  • Current Affairs and Civic Awareness: Stay informed about pressing issues and learn how to critically analyze and discuss them.
  • Effective Teaching Strategies: If you're an educator, discover pedagogical approaches to inspire civic engagement in your students.
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Develop skills to address real-world challenges and contribute to positive change.
  • Communication and Leadership: Enhance your ability to advocate for your beliefs and lead initiatives within your community.
  • Empathy and Inclusivity: Embrace diversity and inclusivity as core principles of civic engagement.

Our aim is to equip you with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to become active, informed, and responsible citizens who can shape a brighter future for your community and society as a whole. Join us on this exciting journey towards civic empowerment and let's make a positive impact together.

Needs Assessment

From the needs assessment, it was evident that learners, including educators and individuals interested in civic engagement, had gaps in various aspects of knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to civic engagement. These gaps encompassed a lack of comprehensive understanding of civic principles and responsibilities, limited critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and varying levels of engagement and empathy. The mini-course aims to address these gaps by providing structured knowledge, fostering critical thinking, enhancing communication and leadership skills, and promoting attitudes of civic responsibility and engagement.

Performance Objectives

1. Comprehensive Civic Understanding: By the end of this mini-course, learners will possess a comprehensive understanding of civic principles, including democracy, government structures, and citizens' rights and responsibilities.

2. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills: Learners will develop and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to address complex civic issues effectively.

3. Effective Communication and Leadership: Participants will enhance their communication and leadership abilities, enabling them to advocate for their beliefs and lead civic initiatives within their communities.

4. Fostering Civic Responsibility and Engagement: The mini-course will cultivate attitudes of civic responsibility, empathy, open-mindedness, and active engagement in civic matters among learners.

5. Facilitating Constructive Dialogue: Participants will learn to engage in constructive dialogue, accommodating diverse viewpoints, and contributing positively to civic discourse.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: Foundations of Civic Engagement

In the first unit of the "Fostering Civic Engagement Through Social Studies" mini-course, we lay the essential groundwork for our exploration of civic engagement. This unit is designed to provide learners, whether educators or individuals, with a solid understanding of the foundational concepts that underpin civic participation and responsibility. We will delve into the core principles of democracy, the structures of government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

By the end of this unit, you will have a comprehensive grasp of the key concepts that form the basis of civic engagement. This foundational knowledge will serve as a springboard for deeper explorations into effective teaching strategies, critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills in the subsequent units. Get ready to embark on a journey that will equip you with the essential knowledge needed to become an informed and engaged citizen or an educator who inspires civic-mindedness in your students.

Unit 2: Nurturing the Seeds of Civic Engagement

In "Nurturing the Seeds of Civic Engagement," we delve deeper into the foundations of civic education. Building upon the knowledge gained in the previous unit, learners will explore the critical role educators play in inspiring civic participation among students. This unit will equip you with the essential tools and strategies to cultivate a sense of civic responsibility, awareness, and engagement in the classroom or community setting. From developing engaging lessons to fostering critical thinking and empathy, this unit provides a comprehensive framework for educators and individuals alike to nurture the seeds of civic engagement in future generations. Get ready to empower your students or community members with the knowledge and skills needed to become active and responsible citizens.

Unit 3: Culminating Civic Engagement Mastery

Unit 3, "Culminating Civic Engagement Mastery," serves as the final stage of our mini-course, "Fostering Civic Engagement Through Social Studies." This unit is designed to bring together all the knowledge, skills, and attitudes participants have acquired throughout the course, allowing them to demonstrate their mastery of civic engagement concepts.

In this culminating unit, learners will engage in a series of comprehensive assessments, reflection activities, and collaborative projects that showcase their understanding of civic principles, critical thinking abilities, and practical application of civic engagement strategies. Participants will have the opportunity to assess their growth, reflect on their journey, and identify areas where they have evolved as educators or engaged citizens.

By the end of this unit, participants will not only have a deeper understanding of civic engagement but will also possess the confidence and skills needed to inspire civic participation and responsibility among their students or communities. It is the culmination of their efforts, setting them on a path to make a positive impact on their surroundings and promote a culture of active citizenship.

Extended Resources


  1. Forestiere, C. (2015). Promoting civic agency through civic-engagement activities: a guide for instructors new to civic-engagement pedagogy. Journal of Political Science Education, 11(4), 455-471.
  2. Matto, E. C., McCartney, A. R. M., Bennion, E. A., & Simpson, D. W. (Eds.). (2017, July). Teaching civic engagement across the disciplines. Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.
  3. Dang, L., Seemann, A. K., Lindenmeier, J., & Saliterer, I. (2022). Explaining civic engagement: The role of neighborhood ties, place attachment, and civic responsibility. Journal of community psychology, 50(3), 1736–1755. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22751
  4. Martini, Mara, Chiara Rollero, Marco Rizzo, Sabrina Di Carlo, Norma De Piccoli, and Angela Fedi. 2023. "Educating Youth to Civic Engagement for Social Justice: Evaluation of a Secondary School Project" Behavioral Sciences 13, no. 8: 650. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs13080650
  5. Theiss-Morse, E., & Hibbing, J. R. (2005). Citizenship and civic engagement. Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci., 8, 227-249.
  6. Lenzi, M., Vieno, A., Sharkey, J., Mayworm, A., Scacchi, L., Pastore, M., & Santinello, M. (2014). How school can teach civic engagement besides civic education: The role of democratic school climate. American journal of community psychology, 54, 251-261.
  7. Nokes, J. D. (2019). Teaching history, learning citizenship: Tools for civic engagement. Teachers College Press.
  8. Nokes, J. D. (2019). Teaching history, learning citizenship: Tools for civic engagement. Teachers College Press.
  9. DeJarnette, N. K., & Sudeck, M. (2016). Advocating for a Cause: Civic Engagement in the Elementary Classroom. Journal of Social Studies Education Research, 7(1).