Faculty News

Michigan Minds: Increasing student civic engagement

Mary Jo Callan Michigan Minds

The University of Michigan’s Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning is committed to equipping students, faculty, and staff across campus with the knowledge, skills, and commitment to socially responsible civic engagement.

In this episode of Michigan Minds, Mary Jo Callan, Director of the Ginsberg Center, discusses the importance of promoting civic education on college campuses and beyond. 

“I think it’s important for students to be engaged and understand the purpose and reason to be engaged, because a fundamental human need is around affiliation, belonging, and agency,” she said. “Civic engagement is the umbrella for engaging in public life.”

The Ginsberg Center, which has expanded its reach in recent years, helps students identify pathways to develop skills and practice their own agency toward becoming the change they want to see in the world. They work with students, faculty, and community partners to create connections for increased impact. 

In September 2017, the Ginsberg Center led the Big Ten Voting Challenge, a nonpartisan effort aimed at increasing voter registration and turnout among college students at all 14 of the universities that comprise the Big Ten Conference. 

Callan said that she was “thrilled and proud” of the student engagement during the 2018 midterm elections. Voter turnout among students at the University of Michigan tripled compared to four years earlier, and U-M’s increase was higher than the national average among college students, which jumped from 19% overall, to 40%.

“Our work in democratic engagement is really helping students understand that one key pathway to impact public life — that is civic engagement — is through voting and the democratic process.”

You can download and subscribe to Michigan Minds from wherever you listen to podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Google Play, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Spotify.