Civic Engagement Defined
The following definition, excerpted from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich, published by Oryx Press, 2000 (Preface, page vi; Introduction, page xxvi), fits well with the William Paterson Mission, Vision and Values:
Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes. A morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.
Civic engagement at William Paterson University facilitates personal growth, helps prepare students for careers and develops productive citizens.
William Paterson University Mission
Civic engagement, as defined to the right, is a fundamental part of who we are as a university community. This is clearly stated in the final sentence of the WPU Mission Statement:
“The University’s graduates embody a profound sense of responsibility to their communities, commitment to a sustainable environment and active involvement in a multicultural world.”
Civic engagement is also embedded within our statement of values:
As individuals and as an institution, we seek to model and to impart to our students the highest standards of knowledge, inquiry, preparation, academic freedom and integrity, as well as an expanded sense of what an individual can accomplish.
We strive to expand the boundaries of knowledge and creative expression in and outside of our classrooms. We help students think imaginatively and critically and encourage innovative solutions to social issues, the challenges of ecological sustainability and economic growth and ethical dilemmas confronting our communities, regions, nation and world.
Students are our reason for being. We judge our effectiveness, progress, and success in terms of how well we provide a platform for their personal, intellectual and professional development, enabling them to transform their lives and become civically engaged.
We value and promote the expression of all aspects of diversity. We maintain a campus culture that welcomes diversity of personal circumstances and experiences and prepares students to become effective citizens in an increasingly diverse, interdependent and pluralistic society.
We challenge our students, faculty, staff and alumni to recognize their responsibility to improve the world around them, starting locally and expanding globally. We offer critical expertise to New Jersey and our region, while our scholarship and public engagement address pressing community needs in the region and beyond in keeping with our public mission.
William Paterson University Strategic Plan
Civic engagement is also featured prominently within the William Paterson University 2012-2022 Strategic Plan:
- Strategic Plan Goal 3, Objective Da: Provide opportunities for students to be civically engaged so that upon graduation they will have had experience with advocacy, citizenship, voting, and political debate. Specifically, the University will support and enhance its participation in The American Democracy Project
- Strategic Plan Goal 3, Objective Db: “Develop regionally and nationally recognized co-curricular activities linked to academic progress: Ensure students are able to participate in community service projects with surrounding towns and cities. The University has a set of diverse service learning programs but it will focus on those consistent with the objectives of the Campus Compact …”
- Strategic Plan Goal 4, Objective A:. “Build a community of engaged students: Enhance the array of extra-curricular programs that develop personal skills, leadership capabilities, ethics, professional capacities, healthy lifestyles, and civic responsibility.”