Civic Engagement 

The public purpose of higher education involves preparing students to be informed and active members of society. Both civic engagement and civic knowledge are a part of a broader idea -civic learning. Civic engagement can be defined as intentional involvement within society to improve the quality of life in communities by actively addressing issues that are of public concern. This involvement includes activities that enrich or contribute to the social fabric of our communities and may include political or nonpolitical processes and organizations. Civic knowledge refers to the various systems (political, social, regional, national, international) that frame and drive society. This understanding maybe contextualized by historical, economic, and cultural factors. Civic knowledge is greatly enhanced by civic engagement and the opportunity to apply this learning.

Connecting Community Engagement and Civic Engagement

Community engagement is an umbrella term that refers to the variety of ways the university partners with and contributes to the surrounding community. Civic engagement may be considered a type of community engagement. Community-based learning is also a method of community engagement and can be a tool for civic engagement. Community-based learning refers to courses or assignments within courses that require students to actively participate in off-campus learning activities. For our purposes, these activities take place within a broad scope of non-profit and public entities that contribute to improving quality of life through: education, arts, equity, health, food security, and sustainability. Service learning is a pedagogical subset of community-based learning with learning outcomes focused on social responsibility or social justice that are explored within a disciplinary context. Community engagement and community-based learning have designated learning outcomes based on such concepts as awareness of community issues, social responsibility, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, inclusion, and equity, as well as learning outcomes that connect the discipline to the student experience or community. Learning outcomes for civic engagement focus specifically on the skills and civic knowledge necessary for full, meaningful, and informed participation within a democratic society. As we work to measure impact on students and the community the methods and tools for assessment may be the same.

Civic Engagement and the Center for Community Engagement

In spring 2016, President Morishita joined presidents of Campus Compact member institutions in signing the 30th Anniversary Action Statement of Presidents and Chancellors that affirms the commitment of higher education to the public good. Cal State East Bay is not only a member institution, but also the administrative home of California Campus Compact. The Statement commits campuses to taking concrete steps to advance student civic learning and contribute to a more just, equitable, and sustainable democratic future. In signing the Action Statement, each campus committed to creating a Campus Civic Action Plan, documenting how it will strengthen engagement. In October and November 2016, East Bay staff and administrators attended civic learning institutes and began the process of creating our Action Plan. The Center for Community Engagement was tasked with coordinating and drafting the Action Plan and convening gatherings of campus and community members to discuss the work moving forward. You may view the current Civic Action Plan here and additional background information here. This is meant to be a living document that represents the interests and activities of the entire East Bay campus. For more information, contact To learn more about the initiative and see East Bay highlighted on the Campus Compact website visit


Civic Engagement and STEM

Rubric for Student Civic Engagement

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