Civic agency involves the capacities of citizens to work
collaboratively across differences like partisan ideology, faith
traditions, income, geography and ethnicity to address common
challenges, solve problems, and create common ground. Civic agency
requires a set of individual skills, knowledge, and predispositions.
Civic agency also involves questions of institutional design,
particularly how to constitute groups and institutions for sustainable
collective action. Civic agency can be seen from a cultural vantage as
the practices, habits, norms, symbols, and ways of life that enhance or
diminish capacities for collective action. This emerging body of
knowledge and set of collective practices provide models for a major
higher education initiative that will transform previous sources of
civic decline into wellsprings of civic renewal and regeneration.
The Civic Agency Initiative is a partnership with the Center for
Democracy and Citizenship (CDC). The project seeks to further develop
and operationalize the concept of civic agency. The goal of this
initiative is to produce a series of national models for developing
civic agency among undergraduates and to disseminate those models
broadly throughout American higher education. The project combines the
strategic and leadership position of AASCU schools in civic engagement –
with more than 50% of the nation’s public four year college students, a
strong record of educating local and regional leaders, and a
flourishing network of schools in the American Democracy Project – with
the pioneering theoretical and practical work of the Center for
Democracy and Citizenship.
In November 2008, the first Civic Agency Institute was held to launch
the Civic Agency initiative. Since then, the first 16 colleges and
universities involved in the initiative have undertaken community
organizing, one-to-one informational interviews, and curricular
programming to explore the concept of civic agency. In November 2009,
the Civic Agency Institute invited a new cadre of AASCU campuses to join
the work of the Civic Agency initiative.
Center for Democracy and Citizenship