Civic engagement is all the rage. And it's no wonder; the benefits are numerous. From building public trust to having a more engaged citizenry to enhancing local government decision making, civic engagement is a critical part of effective local government in a democracy.
Besides, we've long known that without active, informed, and engaged citizens, a democracy cannot sustain itself. This was the primary motivation behind the establishment of civic academies from ancient Greece to today. Voting is only the most rudimentary act of citizenship.
British philosopher and civil servant John Stuart Mill expressed this imperative bluntly in his Considerations on Representative Government published in 1861.
Mill writes, "every operation of government will go wrong" if the people and their representatives are "mere masses of ignorance, stupidity, and baleful prejudice."
Such a government will fail to defend, protect, and advance the liberties, rights and well-being of all; citizens will either be indifferent or not knowledgeable enough to elect good leaders or empowered enough to hold their elected officials accountable. Ouch.
Thankfully, we are seeing a revival of civic engagement and education by local governments...
[Continued on page 31 of the January 2020 edition of Municipal World Magazine.
Get your copy to learn about civic education and engagement initiatives across Canada and the United States, including from the City of New Orleans, City of Calgary, City of Edmonton, City of Prince George and grassroots initiatives such as Atlanta-based Civic Dinners.
The role of civic education in fostering the type of culture that can sustain our communities, our democracy & our planet.
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