Managing Civic Engagement: Universities and Civic Actors


Universities have traditionally perceived education and research as their main missions and dedicated their core resources to building and supporting excellence in these areas. Recent decades have seen a growing focus on the “third mission” of higher education as well: impacting the universities’ immediate social and economic contexts, serving communities and addressing broader societal needs, locally, nationally, and globally. Civic engagement is increasingly the focus in universities’ internal strategic planning and external partnerships, as well as a factor that significantly influences their curricular, pedagogical and research agendas.

Universities direct resources to new types of activities that include volunteer programs, student-led programs, community-based learning, access programs, action research, and life-long learning opportunities. Civic engagement can provide students with unique learning environments that give them a sense of agency while allowing them to learn with and from community actors. In addition to serving the needs of local communities, civic engagement programs provide new opportunities for students to acquire the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to understand social dynamics in the society contribute to real-life analysis and problem solving and become engaged citizens. Finally, it provides institutions the opportunity to break down traditional “town/gown” barriers and while becoming civic actors in their own right.


  • develop a systematic understanding of the principles and challenges of civic and community engagement, 
  • share and enhance expertise on policies, planning, resourcing and implementation of relevant programs, be they student-led or institutionally based, 
  • develop community action plans for their institutions, 
  • learn from good practices by exploring case studies of specific signature initiatives within and beyond the OSUN network, and 
  • elaborate and refine the ideas, formats and practicalities of existing or new programs and collaborations in the area of civic and community engagement at the course participants’ institutions.


Participants will be asked to form teams and work together on projects or joint initiatives relevant to their institutional contexts. The first individual project draft will be presented as a mid-course assignment and each participant will receive feedback from the group and course instructor. The final project will be presented during the last course session.

The module entails 28 contact hours and approx. 25 hours of individual and group work.


Jonathan Becker

Bard CollegeExecutive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Director, Center for Civic Engagement; Professor of Political Studies

Open Society University Network - Vice-Chancellor


The course is addressed to university faculty and administrators at all levels interested in initiating civic engagement programs, enhancing the efficiency and impact of existing programs and promoting student learning using civic engagement tools.


October 27-November 19, 2021

Wednesday and Saturday from 8.30 A.M. (NYC time) 2.30 P.M. (Vienna time)

Format: online

Registration deadline: October 20, 2021


By the end of the course, the participants will be able to design, implement, manage and evaluate civic engagement programs in their own university, and develop a Civic Action Plan, which entails some of the following: Community - university partnerships, student-led initiatives, institutional initiatives, community-based learning, non-profit internships and other forms of embedded learning.

Additionally, the participants will: 

  • Understand core notions of civic engagement. 
  • Develop the capacity to think critically about the context, impacts, challenges and opportunities of civic engagement activities, including those in which students lead or participate. 
  • Understand various contexts where civic engagement takes place − at different levels (local, national, global) and between/across state and non-state organizations and groups, as well as in countries with different levels of political, social and economic development and diversities of population. 
  • Advance, plan or develop a partnership for a specific project/program in the area of civic/community engagement to be implemented at their university/ies, and 
  • gain access to a global network of colleagues interested in and working on the projects in the area of civic and community engagement in universities 
  • Civic and community engagement, third mission in context: current debates and challenges 
  • Institutional planning, resources and policies for civic engagement 
  • Ethical considerations in civic engagement: understanding the community context, partners’ responsibilities and standards for ethical interactions 
  • Models of community engagement: access to education programs, lifelong learning, volunteering and internship programs, engaged research, student-led initiatives 
  • Student supervision and assessment in community engagement projects 
  • Community-engaged project management: bringing together students, staff, faculty and community representatives 
  • Measuring success in civic engagement; defining objectives and impact 
  • Development of Civic Action Plan with presentation


Participants have to apply via CEU's online application platform. 
Registration deadline: October 17, 2021