Pathways to Civic Engagement

In this episode of Michigan Minds, Danyelle Reynolds, Assistant Director for Student Learning and Leadership at the Ginsberg Center, discusses  Pathways to Civic Engagement and Community Change, a framework that highlights six ways that members of the community can exercise power to create a just and inclusive society. 

The Pathways framework describes a robust range of educational and engagement actions to engage in. They intersect and overlap, and there isn’t a “best” path to take. And because they are being introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pathways activities have been designed so they can be pursued remotely. 

Reynolds emphasizes that the list below is not exhaustive, and that there are many different ways people can contribute.

The pathways are:

  • Policy and governance: participating in democratic and deliberative processes and policymaking
  • Community organizing: involving, educating, and mobilizing to influence change 
  • Direct service: working to address community needs through direct interactions 
  • Community-engaged learning and research: connecting coursework, research, and out-of-the-classroom experiences to identified concerns to enrich knowledge and inform action on social issues 
  • Philanthropy: donating or raising funds and resources for organizations that engage in work contributing to the public good 
  • Social entrepreneurship: using ethical business approaches to create or expand market-oriented responses to social or environmental problems

“We need representation from these multiple pathways in order to see the structural and meaningful change that we want to see happening in our world,” she says. “One of the first goals for the Pathways is really to provide ways for us to reclaim our civic purpose. We are a public institution, and our mission is to serve the people of Michigan, and the people in our world,” Reynolds says, adding that additional goals include providing tangible ways to create change and highlighting the work that people do at U-M.

In order to have a democratic society, she says, everyone needs to take action and make contributions. “I really like the phase ‘habits of democracy,’ because it shows that these are things that we have to continue exercising and doing in order to form the society that we want to see. It’s not something to take for granted,” she says. 

She’s looking forward to  the theme semester, and is hopeful that Pathways will help promote  the actions that individuals can take on campus and in the community to create change.

Reynolds ends  the podcast with an appeal: “This is absolutely an invitation to further explore what the Pathways could look like across campus with different partners. We’d love to work with you so that we can get students, and ourselves as faculty and staff, really engaged in the community in ways that have some tangible and long-lasting, positive impact.” 

Learn more about the Pathways to Civic Engagement and Community Change in this episode of Michigan Minds, and on the Ginsberg Center’s website