Sustainable Civic Engagement

Hello Scholars!

Last time we met we went over Blake Scott’s “Civic Engagement as Risk Management and Public Relations: What the Pharmaceutical Industry Can Teach Us about Service-Learning.” One of the biggest concerns emerging in civic engagement in university or academic settings (either as class curriculum or research) is the issue of sustainability. Scott traced tropes of sustainability inĀ  pharmaceutical responsibility reports alongside descriptions of civic engagement (CE) models and found that university models are adapting the ideological stance of corporate institutions as CE becomes more heavily institutionalized. Thus, sustainability becomes more about either a professor’s research agenda or the benefit of universities, including students, more generally.

While Monberg’s piece asked you to consider how being first generation students in the academy means that you have not had some of the same privileges afforded to other students who are not first generation, Scott’s article asks you to consider how your place in the academy has now afforded particular kinds of power and privilege that can affect your research and scholarship. As universities push for more “public” work to be done, we should consider how to make that work mutually beneficial and sustainable for the communities we impact and sometimes work with outside of the academy. This approach, he argues, does not work from the “inside-out” by privileging the university as the site of action and change, but instead encourages actual engagement with communities to work collaboratively to solve problems with the resources available to us all.

Many of you have already started doing community work on you own, but even if you haven’t take some time to consider these questions:

  1. What are the conditions that lead to the “need” you address? Additionally, what conditions create the differences between those folks who are “served” and others to do the “serving?”
  2. As Scott asks, “What and whose priorities are we linking and what gets gained through this linkage?” “What and whose values are driving the project and why?”
  3. How (if at all) can you see your commitment to this issue or community being sustainable? Under whose authority?
  4. What kinds of civic action does your engagement make possible (charity, social justice, etc)?


Word Count: at least 250 words, but no more than 500 words

Due: April 7, 2014




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