Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement: A Nationwide Effort to Make Service a Way of Life

Posted by American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) on November 30, 2021

[PHENND has been using the Pathways tools with our AmeriCorps programs since 2019 and we participate in the national working group.]

When college students first experience civic and community engagement, they often see it as “just volunteering.” A group of colleges and universities is trying to change that narrative.

Faculty, staff, and administrators from seventy-six institutions have collaborated to develop the Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement framework. “In creating the pathways, we were trying to figure out how we can help our students get from a mindset that ‘service is just volunteering’ to ‘service can be a way of life,’” says Gail Robinson, a pathways consultant for the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University.

Originally created in 2013 by Stanford’s Haas Center, the pathways framework is regularly refined by a national working group. The framework now focuses on the six “pathways” that students can follow to pursue academic experiences and careers related to civic engagement, public service, and contributing to the “common good”:

  1. Community-Engaged Learning and Research: Connecting coursework and academic research to community-identified concerns to enrich knowledge and inform action on social issues.
  2. Direct Service: Working to address the immediate needs of individuals or a community, often involving contact with the people or places being served.
  3. Policy and Governance: Participating in political processes, policymaking, and public governance.
  4. Community Organizing and Activism: Involving, educating, and mobilizing individual or collective action to influence or persuade others.
  5. Philanthropy: Donating or using private funds or charitable contributions from individuals or institutions to contribute to the public good.
  6. Social Entrepreneurship and Corporate Social Responsibility: Using ethical business or private sector approaches to create or expand market-oriented responses to social or environmental problems.

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