From Dr. Robert Shumer, NYLC Board member, University of Minnesota
& Tiveeda Stovall, University of San Diego
America is in its second decade of the 21st century. While the situation is improving in areas of employment rates, health coverage, and increased graduation rates, there are major changes occurring in the US culture and landscape. The impact of technology, global economy, and apparent deterioration of civic engagement and political participation (American Civic Forum, 1994; Lipset, 1995; Putnam, 1995; Putnam, 2000) has fundamentally altered life. Worse, there is a renewed increase in both income and social inequality that has altered the opportunities for racial/national minorities to experience social justice and improved quality of life.
With these impending challenges, there is good news. We have opportunities, through well researched educational and social practices, to improve conditions all across the country, especially for youth in schools and colleges. The overriding effort is offered through programs that increase engagement in all aspects of life, from social engagement, to educational engagement, to civic engagement. Programs that embrace service-learning, volunteerism, and experiential learning provide the activities that allow young people to connect with their communities and their social environments to become active contributors to the improvement of the quality of life for others, and as a result, improve the quality of life for themselves. Service-learning, volunteerism, and community involvement provide the opportunities to reclaim the democratic, humane principles that honor the values and traditions of America.
Read more in the latest issue of The Generator, a research publication from NYLC.