|Why is Civic Engagement Important?|
In the past few years, there has been a lot of talk and a lot written about the fact that Americans' participation in civic life—or "civic engagement"— has declined dramatically. According to Harvard Professor Robert Putnam, over the last 25 years, Americans' participation in public meetings is down by 35 percent and participation in clubs and civic organizations has been cut by more than half.
By the People thinks this is bad news for democracy. Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out in his Democracy in America that the key to making American democracy work is our willingness to create and maintain a variety of civic associations.
Against the backdrop of weakened civic engagement, the issues facing our increasingly globalized world are becoming more complex. And the activities that traditionally boost citizens' understanding of these issues—like newspaper readership—are also in decline.
There are a number of organizations focused on rejuvenating civic engagement and the focus on public policy issues. These groups come at the problem from a variety of angles, but BTP's approach is unique because it:
Some other groups focused on civic engagement are also By the People national partners:
Other groups working to foster civic engagement include: The National Issues Forums; The National Civic League; Pew Partnership for Civic Change; The Study Circles Resource Center; The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, an initiative of Professor Robert D. Putnam at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; and AmericaSpeaks.