As a democratic-republic, substantial faith is placed on citizens to preserve the integrity of our democracy. But in our post-truth society, we witness the repercussions of widespread misinformation and with the growth of ignorance comes the looming threat of political extremism and tyranny. That is why today’s America must be given a proper education of the civics as it pertains to America.
Simply put, teaching the civics in higher education would deliver an understanding of political processes and the rights of citizens to students who will be responsible for the country’s future. But what’s concerning today is the lack of student initiative in enriching their understanding of American citizenship. For instance, the general lack of voter participation among college students is especially alarming and might suggest that students don’t understand the significance of their voting rights.
Even those interested in fields like healthcare, engineering and other non-political disciplines who not actively thinking about politics must be included in the civics education. For these potentially uninterested groups, curricula that integrate the civics into non-political fields offers the promise of connecting students to the world that governs them. Students who spend time learning the civics (American history, politics, public issues, etc.) would fulfill some of their responsibilities as citizens—becoming more aware of the society over which they can exert some (albeit very little) political control.
The case for expanding civics education at Benedictine University is also due to a need to fulfill collective ends as citizens in the community.
Between voters who are stubborn about one issue and voters who abstain from voting, many people fail to engage civically in a committed and inquisitive manner. In our community, it would be wise for the University to first conduct a survey to find out how actively (and thoroughly) its students participate in voting and civic engagement.
Events like the Teach In and programs organized by the Center for Civic Leadership are great opportunities for students and sometimes members of the community to learn the civics. However, the University should still expand the civics education while urging students to take on a greater responsibility in their learning of the civics.