Washington State University

Center for Civic Engagement


On June 1, 2007, the Community Service Learning Center became the Center for Civic Engagement, a reflection of national trends and the expanding scope of the Center.

Established in 1993 by a task force of faculty, students, and community representatives and led by Dr. Bob Howell and Dr. Don Bushaw, the Community Service Learning Center has an important role as a centralized university office responsible for student civic engagement and service learning. 

Why change our name?

3 14 94 CompressedThe name change is precipitated by the growth in depth and breadth of the program at Washington State University and the concomitant cultural shift represented by the interests of students and faculty in societal issues and community action. Growth in numbers of participants (students, faculty, community and campus partners) is just one measure of this shift. Recent world and national events (9/11, South Asia tsunami, Katrina) have all resulted in a role for the CSLC as a resource for crisis response and ongoing contributions. Campus partners are looking to the department to provide an ever expanding array of services, from staff training to dialogue facilitation to civic education to project planning. The CSLC has gone from a service learning center to a hub of programs and services that educate and engage our campus and community residents in civically purposeful action and learning.

The name change is also consistent with national trends in higher education. Comparable departments at peer institutions of Washington State University have made similar name changes (Colorado State University: Student Leadership and Civic Engagement; Michigan State University: Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement) as have some of the leading institutions for service learning, public service and civic engagement (Pace Center Civic Engagement Network, Princeton University). PAC 10 schools include Arizona State's Community Engagement Programs and University of Southern California's Civic Engagement Initiative.

What is Civic Engagement?

Civic engagement is a philosophy, a process, and a state of being relative to one's place in community and society. It encompasses the lifelong efforts of individuals and communities to make positive change within society.

Civic engagement challenges students to become individuals of character by raising awareness of and knowledge about the needs of the community and increasing civic competence and responsibility while working toward positive change in society through thought, speech, and action.

The name "Center for Civic Engagement" reflects the vision of the office, which is to contribute to the development of civically engaged and socially responsible graduates of Washington State University. It represents an expansion of purpose from a focus on direct community service activities to a broader educative role relative to civic issues and participation manifested in student involvement opportunities addressing local community needs, national concerns and global issues. The name reflects an intent to promote civic learning outcomes through various levels of engagement, relationship building and problem solving among students and the communities of which they are a part.

What will the CCE do?

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) promotes student learning through engagement in community service, service learning, advocacy, public education and civic leadership. Student civic engagement includes the exploration of "self in society" through enhanced self awareness, knowledge of community issues and development of civic responsibility. The CCE is a resource for students seeking to make stronger connections with community and faculty seeking to incorporate community-based learning and civic development into the academic curriculum. Established partnerships with local, regional, national and international organizations provide students with diverse opportunities for learning the skills necessary to make positive changes in the world.

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How Does Civic Engagement Support WSU's Learning Goals?

  • Engaging with issues in a community context provides opportunities to apply academic specialty knowledge and evaluate and use new information.

  • New ideas and knowledge gained through civic learning promotes critical thinking and the ability to analyze real world problems

  • Experience with diverse perspectives and life situations contributes to cultural competence, effective communication skills, and awareness of self in society.

Click here to read the WSU Learning Goals

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Center for Civic Engagement, PO Box 647204, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-7204 | 509-335-7708 | fax: 509-335-3400| CUB L45/L48 | M-W 8-7/Th-F 8-5 | cce@wsu.edu