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© 2019 Civic Ecology Lab

eEngagement: Expanding civic engagement opportunities for university students

As universities seek to build civic understanding and foster civic values among students, they have turned to service learning and related forms of student public engagement. Engaged learning generally takes place through students partnering with local organizations or through semester-abroad and other international experiences. e-Engagement, defined as “university-community engagement facilitated by social media, online courses, and other online platforms,” provides a third strategy, which can address barriers imposed by the limited number of local organizations able to host students, and by the costs for students of moving to another location. e-Engagement students can acquire contemporary civic skills through participating in change-oriented online communities using familiar and new social and digital media. Further, given the innovative ways in which people are engaging civically online, for example, through social learning MOOCs and web-facilitated social justice movements, exploring e-Engagement may uncover new ways of thinking about university engagement that will benefit engaged learning practice and research more broadly.

To document models of eEngagement, we interviewed Cornell faculty using a diversity of eEngagement learning approaches. Through open ended coding of interview transcripts, we are identifying eEngagement models that can be used to expand thinking about using the internet to address universities’ civic mission.