Liberal Education: Special Issue: Civic Engagement and Psychosocial Well-Being

Drawing from a national symposium convened by the Bringing Theory to Practice project, this special issue examines the interrelatedness of civic engagement, psychosocial well-being, and engaged learning.


President’s Message
Civic Learning in College: Our Best Investment in the Future of Our Democracy
By Carol Geary Schneider
General education has long been regarded as part of American higher education’s responsibility to the success of our democracy. Throughout the twentieth century, the rationale for general education was that higher education educates citizens, and educated citizens need a rich understanding of the larger context in which they live, work, and contribute. Unhappily, many college students get no such thing.

From the Editor
News and Information


Introduction: New Perspectives on Civic Engagement and Psychosocial Well-Being
By Barry Checkoway
What are some strategies for strengthening the relationship between “civic engagement” and the “psychosocial well-being” of college and university students, as part of the core mission of higher education?

What Do We Know about Civic Engagement?
By Peter Levine
A decade ago, the volume of research on the civic engagement and learning of young people was strikingly small—especially considering that the future of our democracy depends on the preparation of young citizens. Today, the situation is dramatically different.

Civic Engagement and Psychosocial Well-Being in College Students
By Constance Flanagan and Matthew Bundick
Over the past few decades, colleges and universities have made engagement in community service and public affairs a more common part of the undergraduate experience. Is such engagement likely to benefit students’ psychosocial well-being?


Service, Public Work, & Respectful Public Citizens
By James Youniss
Public work is a form of service that promotes healthy individual development and active citizenship, that is relevant to contemporary political-economic conditions, and that is important for the civic and mental health of young people.

Hope, Healing, and Care: Pushing the Boundaries of Civic Engagement for African American Youth 
By Shawn Ginwright
An alternative framework is needed to provide new ways of conceptualizing civic engagement and activism among African American youth in urban communities.

The Town Hall Meeting: Imagining a Self through Public-Sphere Pedagogy
By Jill Swiencicki, Chris Fosen, Sofie Burton, Justin Gonder, and Thia Wolf
What lasting impact could a required general education writing course have on student well-being?

Intergroup Dialogue: Education for a Broad Conception of Civic Engagement
By Patricia Gurin, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda, and Nicholas Sorensen
The results of a multi-university study demonstrate the efficacy of intergroup dialogue, a process that brings together students from two or more social-identity groups to talk about important social issues in nonsuperficial ways.

Connecting the Dots: A Methodological Approach for Assessing Students’ Civic Engagement and Psychosocial Well-Being
By Ashley Finley
How can the linkages between students’ civic development and their psychosocial well-being be meaningfully defined and assessed at the campus level?


What I Learned as a Participant in Community Dialogues
By Sarah Yu
My changing role as a student participant in the Michigan Youth and Community Program helped deepen my understanding of civic engagement.