Clayton State University Instructor of Political Science Sara Henderson recently had all three of her POLS 1101 classes attend local government meetings as a part of their civic engagement requirement for the course.
“Clayton State University, generally through its strategic plan, and more specifically the Political Science program, puts a great deal of emphasis on creating a climate of civic engagement within the student body culture,” Henderson says. “I modeled this part of my curriculum after Dr. Joe Corrado’s course syllabus as a way of fostering that commitment to civic engagement.”
After the students attended a community meeting they wrote a paper about their experience.
“My students have all reported learning a great deal from this project,” Henderson explains. “Most of the students had never attended a meeting at this level and it gave them insight as to how local governments operate. Their contact with these officials has given the students a sense that they too, can help to shape policies and laws that affect their everyday lives. The project has also helped to reintroduce cities and counties surrounding Clayton State University to the bright and intelligent students we are so fortunate to teach on a daily basis.”
Henderson notes that the project was a resounding success.
“Even those students who were reluctant to attend the meetings wrote in their papers that they were glad they attended and would be very likely to attend a future meeting,” she says. “Civic engagement is much more than a paper we write, a speaker we hear, or a book we read. It is becoming involved in our communities in a way that helps not only us but our neighbors as well. These students have paved the way to becoming more civically conscious through their participation in this project. I hope to continue this activity for years to come as a way of reminding students how we can all make a difference if we just know where to look.”