Click here to go back to the home page Click on this link to view the screenreader friendly and text only version of this website

What Is Civic Engagement?

Civic engagement is an umbrella term used to describe the activities which promote the bridging of communities with socially conscious thought and action.  “Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” Thomas Ehrlich, goes onto to say that “amorally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.”

The underlying aim of civic engagement is to produce meaningful service and experience to all involved participants. The relationship between all involved parties is ideally reciprocal; the community partners explain their needs, the students and faculty work with the community partners to find a sustainable way to address their need and the experience serves as a common ground for students to enhance their scholarship, raise questions and explore alternative solutions with new social consciousness, not only in the classroom but as they move into the world as professionals. This experience also allows faculty to reignite student’s passion and tie current or future research endeavors to their courses.

Excerpts from "Civic Responsibility and Higher Education," edited by Thomas Ehrlich, published by Oryx Press, 2000.



Community Based Research

Faculty/Student/Community Research inquiry into societal disservices for example nutrition and food desert in urban settings


Similar to a practicum; practical application of theory learned in the classroom in a controlled setting

Service Learning or Experiential Learning

Enhances what a student learns; it connects academic discussion to real-world experiences the service given to a community results in the development of soft transferable skills and increase networking and marketability for future employers for students and reinforces learned academic material


Through advocacy, for example, increasing others awareness through Get out the Vote drives, Reducing Gang Violence walks, or various disaster relief fund: earthquake relief, tsunami relief

Deliberate dialogue

Workshops, seminars, town hall meetings

Community Service or Volunteerism

May be one-time or on-going service to a community in need


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
    Info » | Directions »