Students and Civic Engagement

Democrat-RepublicanFor generations, students have sought postsecondary educations for a multitude of reasons. Whether it be for intellectual pursuits, for career preparation, or for other personal objectives, postsecondary education offers a range of benefits.

With election season upon us, it is challenging to avoid the increase in political rhetoric and discourse. These election years, particularly presidential election years, remind us that formal education can provide an additional incentive – encouraging civic engagement.

Recently, Inside Higher Education reported on how institutions such as California State University at Los Angeles are now requiring civic engagement courses as part of their general studies curriculum.

Such a trend can be valuable in ensuring that the student voice is included in policy and political discussions. In years when college students have been active in campaigns and in voting, we see more robust, informed discussions. And we see that students care about far more than just free college tuition. They see the long-term role their voices can play in economic, social, and foreign policy.

Whether required to take such classes or encouraged to have their voices heard, students can and should play a role in future elections. And from years of ERCA student research, it is clear these students have well-thought, deep views on a host of topics related to their lives and their futures.

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