Civic Engagement in Adolescents: Engendering Civic Awareness Through a University Youth Program

Jennifer S. Parker, Timothy M. Dale, Kerri-Ann G. Wilkins

Abstract


A weeklong residential Youth Leadership Institute Project was conducted at USC Upstate to promote essential skills deemed necessary for future civic engagement and political identity. The program and curriculum followed a framework that suggests that underlying civic skills are necessary to foster civic engagement among youth. Building on this theory, this reported study illustrates that civic engagement requires a developmental and educational process. Adolescence is a primary time for identity exploration and formation, which makes this stage an optimal time to engender civic awareness. A diverse group of 49 youth ranging in age from 14 to 17 participated. Results from the project demonstrate that when evaluating the significance and success of youth civic engagement programs, an account must be made for both the developmental and educational capacities. In pursuing projects such as ours on university campuses and beyond, psychologists and political scientists should work together to measure their outcomes in terms of these variables.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2010.226

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