Civic Engagement As A Community Process


Units: 6


Citizens have been "civic engaged" and "planned" so often they are losing the motivation to participate. They've diligently shared their observations, opinions, and recommendations about policies and development projects that affect their daily lives, yet their responses are seldom given satisfying consideration. Many are frustrated and tired of the process - engagement fatigue is real. This course will explore civic engagement from several perspectives: what is and is not working with the current processes, issues the public expects to be resolved, and what the Pittsburgh Department of City Planning is doing about it with its new Public Engagement Strategy. The course will examine community issues which are often unstated but are the basis for disengagement and lack of trust with the process, understand why the engagement process is valued in a democratic society, what should be expected from any engagement, and how it is expanding to serve many purposes. We will explore Pittsburgh's new strategy and the tools that will be made available to local community organizations for its facilitation. Students will read and annotate relevant material on a weekly basis, prepare and lead at least one topic seminar, and participate in class discussions. Where possible, we will participate in current community engagement meetings. Class will meet once a week in the evening for three hours.

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

- Describe and discuss major engagement issues and concerns that often underlie citizen involvement and community values.

- Research and analyze complex civic engagement topics to understand the conditions that precipitated their relevance and how they are (or not) being addressed.

- Plan and prepare an in-class presentation that fosters students' individual presentation and group-based facilitation skills.

- Lead a topic presentation and deliberative discussion that educates and elicits discourse.

- Plan and lead civic engagement sessions in a manner that respects citizen participation in the decision- and policy-making process.