Civic leadership in the new economy

Opportunities abound to become civically engaged in today’s society.

Our society today has become integrated with globalization and digital devices from the information technology revolution.  Yet our society also remains connected in terms of economic, social, cultureand emotions to what we consider our “place.”  Place can include our community, region or state, which raises the question:  Has the decrease in personal human interaction by way of social media and texting affected civic leadership? 

The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership defines civic leadership as a reflection of the capacity of a community to: identify, analyze, collaborate, and solve pressing societal needs and issues through the efforts of broadly engaged citizen organizations. Implicit in this capacity are two levels of engagement, where citizens with skills and commitment engage with others at the level of a community to address shared problems.

Studies show that there is a decline in not only political engagement via voting and political activism, but also in non-political arenas such as community clubs and civic and religious organizations.  Perhaps technology has been detrimental to civic leadership, or perhaps citizens don’t feel they have the skill-set to participate adequately despite the near-constant access to information being sent to us in all forms.

An individual’s sense of “place” can provide an opportunity for civic leadership.  The first step for individuals who may be interested in participating in their community is to determine what group/organization might share their interest.  Typically, there are lists of community civic organizations available through websites, in the newspaper or the local library.

Employers, community organizations, and Michigan State University (MSU) Extension also have various training programs and educational opportunities available to help individuals become a more confident leader and civically engaged member of their community.   

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