Despite a relative aversion to voting, youth are often engaged in other ways. CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, studies youth engagement and political participation. Their neat infographic highlights the many other ways young Americans involve themselves in political and civic life.
Still, participation in elections is a critical method of engagement in American society. A persistent gap between youth and older citizens suggests a troubling imbalance in political power. Way back in February, we committed to working with local colleges to address this imbalance and improve student civic engagement.
This election cycle, we’re partnering with Minneapolis Community & Technical College to engage students in discussions and projects around the 2014 Secretary of State election in Minnesota. Students will study the Office of the Secretary of State closely and hear presentations from the current Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, and a national expert at the Bipartisan Policy Center, John Fortier. In October, students will host an on-campus forum evaluating candidate positions. Students will also be designing and implementing projects to increase electoral engagement among members of their communities.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities points out that student success depends on more than in-classroom learning. Participation in cocurricular activities that cultivate student leadership potential and civic awareness is positively associated with professional success and sustained community involvement. This partnership embraces that research to strengthen the bridge between the community and the classroom.