Civic participation is a public obligation. Done well, it can help resolve existing conflicts, help people reach consensus, and open up the potential for a re-energized public engaged in their communities. Done poorly, its mistakes can carry a heavy cost, reinforcing disengagement and breeding conflict.
We develop civic leaders capable of resolving differences then work toward consensus building in their communities about the issues at hand.
Civic development studies how and why public life evolves, through its political systems, processes, and roles. Then teaches the application of this knowledge toward building civic engagement and participation that can generate positive social action and change.
Systemic transformation focuses on how individuals, groups and systems function, interact, and evolve–why people do what they do when they’re alone or in groups. Then teaches strategies designed to restore, improve, and sustain a group’s ability to function.
Focus of concentration
- Strategies to improve, restore, and sustain the integrity of people, organizations and systems
- The evolution of public life, the analysis of issues, and the design of processes that build social capacity
- Application of this knowledge to the theory and practice of public engagement and social action
This concentration is designed to help:
- Officials develop and solidify their skills for public engagement.
- Consultants and trainers gain new skills serving clients and partnering with publics to work on their current challenges.
- Citizens increase their capacity for raising awareness, organizing, and partnering to work on public issues, lead action, and build alliances.
- Educators develop curriculum elements for preparing students for 21st Century citizenship.
- Software designers find design and case applications for developing “Web 2.0″ social software for political and social action.
This course introduces the field of civic engagement. It connects the concentration to the prior learning and anticipated career needs of students and establishes the basis for the theoretical and practical work of the remaining courses. Students learn new applications and skills for critical thinking about social process design and its relationship to systemic transformation. Professionally, it develops student abilities to act as consultant, practitioner, official, informed consumer and/or citizen in the planning of public participation processes, especially in the early stages. Potential benefits, challenges, and risks of public processes are considered together with criteria for tailoring such processes to the demands of particular situations.
CAE626 Civic Development & Complexity (4.00 cr.)
AThis course introduces students to a developmental pattern of increasing complexity evident in four dimensions: (a) civic development, (b) cognitive development, (c) decision making, and (d) how attempts to address complex issues are approached. Drawing from an interdisciplinary literature including complexity science, adult and cognitive development, information processing, and anthropology, students will examine characteristics of this pattern in individual and collective actions and systems, including public issue “talk” and implications for policy development.
In this final course of the concentration, students propose, justify and evaluate designs for strategic social interventions in a series of increasingly complex cases. To do so, they apply the framework and design tools introduced in the first course and the developmental model and introduction to issue analysis from the second. Building on the ability to specify design requirements developed in those courses, and drawing upon the methodologies and techniques inventoried there, students are now designing and improving designs for processes that could meet those requirements.