POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT: Getting Involved; Getting Informed

1) Define and discuss nature of political engagement
2) Survey the student interest in local matters
3) Outline five steps of community engagement
1) Web access for online projects and research
2) Surveys and handouts

1) Group activity 1: "Knowing Where We Belong"
2) Group activity 2: "The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr."
3) Group activity 3: "Our Political Participation"
4) Group activity 4: "Top Three Problems and Solutions"


This lesson surveys the students' interest in local community issues and provides a framework for engaging them in civic life. Democracy thrives when individuals are engaged in local matters and participate in public life. Students need to understand the dynamics of policies, politics, and individual interests in shaping the world around us. The building blocks of daily life -schools, workplaces, houses of worship, businesses, roads, places of entertainment and relaxation- result from and are maintained by fellow citizens. It is important to appreciate where these resources come from and how they are sustained. Students will learn to appreciate how individuals can relate to the complexities of public life and begin to see their role in it.

This unit outlines the necessary steps for participation in public life and encourages students to see themselves as responsible for the public good. This unit may be used by the instructor to lead youth through a process of local action. Becoming a citizen does not just happen but results from the actions, habits, and beliefs of individuals committed to public life. It means more than voting. It means being the kind of person who finds out about public issues, makes his or her opinion heard, and listens to others respectfully. It means getting involved.