Civic engagement programs allow students to develop confidence, passion, and a sense of responsibility toward their community. In a program like Summer Civics Academy at Loyola University Chicago, students are provided with a space for dialogue about the social problems they see in their community and given the resources to try and work towards a solution. Students provided with this type of engaged learning experience are thus encouraged to be a part of our democratic system in the future. Our focus on critical civic engagement attempted to build student skills in identity building, intercultural learning and collective social action. More importantly, students learn to look at policy not as a passive bystander, but as an active participant who has the ability to create change. Summer Civics Academy and programs like it hold substantial benefits for middle school students in urban contexts, where issues of race, nationality, and identity development are often brought to the forefront.



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