The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

orange sheets of paper lie on a green school board and form a chat bubble with three crumpled papers.

Civic engagement is contributing and working to make a difference in the public (or civic) life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and commitment to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community and solving public problems, through both political and non-political processes. Civic engagement is undergirded by constructs of collective action and social responsibility (Ehrlich, 2000).

Helping students draw connections between policy or legislation and course content, disciplinary questions or field-related priorities is critical for educating students about the role we all play in shaping the communities we live in, not only while at University of Michigan but also in the future.  While it can be challenging to know where, or even if, to begin making these connections more explicit in your courses, we can support your efforts. Below, we have shared a compilation of resources that can be used to promote discussion, reflection and connections. 

Contact us at if you have any questions or request a consultation if you would like us to work with you to prepare your students for civic and community engagement. 

What is allowable as a state employee? 

  • Inform students of an upcoming election
  • Share resources for voter registration
  • Make students aware of which positions and initiatives will be on the ballot, without endorsing a particular candidate or position
  • Encourage international students to research candidates and ballot measures, and to talk with their peers who are eligible
  • Review University guidelines

    Learn more about what to expect on and after election day 

    The Ginsberg Center has developed Election 2020: A Non-Partisan Primer a series of non-partisan election primers to provide you with an overview of key election-related concepts and issues, what to expect on and after election day, and how you can participate. You can use these slides to inform yourself and your students.

    Watch the brief video intro to learn more about what is included in each primer, linked below:

    Connect course content to policy issues

    Incorporate the Pathways to Civic Engagement into your work 

    Incorporate civic learning activities into your courses 

    • This Dialogue Deck, co-designed by the Ginsberg Center and UMMA for the 2020 Dewey Lecture, offers a number of ways to use the curated images and prompts to support discussion and reflection.
    • We have curated a number of civic learning activities that allow students across disciplines to practice democratic processes so they can develop democratic habits and engage with socially relevant topics. We offer considerations for adapting the exercises to both in-person and virtual classroom contexts.

    Encourage and support discussion and dialogue

    Being able to support all students to engage fully in discussions can be challenging, but it is a critical responsiblity of a civically engaged campus. Ginsberg has partnered with U-M's CRLT to offer a series of blog posts to help you support all your students during and after election season. 

    Partner with others to support civic engagement

    You can work with colleagues and others to engage more deeply in civic issues:  

    • Hold a meeting with other faculty to strategize ways to support students' learning around civic engagement 
    • Host a panel with faculty or other experts to talk about specific issues
    • Bring in a local rep who is legislating about policies relevant to your field or discipline 
    • Check-in with your professional or disciplinary associations to get ideas for connecting your discipline with public policy

    Further readings & resources​