First Presenter's Institution

University of Delaware

First Presenter’s Email Address

First Presenter's Brief Biography

Chelsia Douglas, MPA, is a current Public Policy and Administration doctoral student in the Joseph R. Biden Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware where she serves as the Whittington Fellow at the Biden Institute. In this capacity, Chelsia works with Blue Hen student leaders, faculty, staff, and administration to increase civic engagement on campus through voter registration, roundtable conversations, promotion of ideological inclusivity and opportunities to network with various public service practitioners. Chelsia currently serves on advisory boards for the Foundation for Access and Educational Equity, the Black Alumni Society of the University of South Alabama, and to the President of the University of Delaware. At USA, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science, her Master of Public Administration, and served as a student leader in many capacities. Her research interests include studying civic education and engagement at the K-collegiate levels, higher education policy and administration for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as local government management in rural communities.


Session Eight Breakouts (Plimsoll)

Strand #1

Home: Family & Community Engagement

Strand #2

Heart: Social & Emotional Skills


This workshop will address the “Home” and “Heart” strands, providing strategies to increase civic engagement amongst all children and youth. Increasing civic engagement amongst students will peak their interests and help facilitate conversations with friends and family members about their core values. In an effort to cultivate an internal and external civically engaged community, we have developed an adaptive, strategic planning template for attendees to complete through collaborative learning. All students, regardless of social class or political party, are at risk. Civic education through service-learning is a useful tool to provide equitable education and exposure to enhance individuals, families, and communities of all backgrounds.

Brief Program Description

The Age-less Citizen will analyze evidence-based civic education studies and explore proactive student engagement strategies to build an individualized nonpartisan action plan for each school represented. From sending election reminders home by a kindergartener, to including local school board meetings on school newsletter and calendars, attendees will take away practical tips and tools to restore faith in the younger generation's ability to improve our democracy.


Advocacy has been proven as an influential tool to enact transformational change in the social and political arenas. Communities across the nation depend on local schools to develop their next generation of bureaucrats, service members, engineers, health care workers, and other occupational sectors essential to societal functioning. Educational institutions facilitate the personal development of individuals, and have a determinant effect on their social mobility post-graduation. Whether in elementary education, secondary, or postsecondary, the socialization of students as facilitated by administration, faculty and staff should include an explicit on civic education and engagement. This goes beyond reciting the Preamble or knowing that life, liberty, justice, and equality of opportunity are the founding principles of American society as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Civic education “explicitly teaches the knowledge, skills and values believed necessary for democratic citizenship, and currently holds a tenuous position in American public schools (Kahne and Middaugh, 2015, 34).” This workshop’s objective is to make the relationship between public and civic education a lot less strenuous. Through proactive planning, use of institutional knowledge, and support of empirical evidence, attendees will develop strategies to implement civic education in curriculum, and extracurricular activities.

Creating a civically engaged community requires a change of institutional culture and administrative commitment to developing student’s soft/hard skills and increasing political literacy. “Securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”, as exclaimed by the Preamble, begins with education, experience, and exposure. Through advocacy service learning, and a collaborative institutional effort, we can ensure an informed and educated citizenry for years to come. “When schools provide the kinds of opportunities that allow students to learn and practice a variety of civic skills, learn about how government works, see how others engage civically and politically, and grapple with their own roles as future citizens, then we see increases in both students’ commitment to and capacity for future participation.” (Kahne and Middaugh, 2015, 39). Our goal is to help educators design a unique strategic plan that will foster a civically engaged culture, providing opportunities for students to engage in community centered discussions and projects in school-sponsored settings.


This workshop will use empirical research to support the use of active learning strategies in developing civically engaged students. The “active learning strategies, including service-learning advocacy projects, enable students to engage in critical thinking, evaluation, and reflection” (Berke, 2010, 15). Scholars found that civic education in private/public schools significantly enhanced students' perceptions of politics, interest in public service, willingness to engage in civil discourse, communal pride, and trust in government (Bauml et al, 2021;Berke, 2010;Kahne and Middaugh, 2015). Structurally changing institutions, in this case through explicit inclusion of civic education and advocacy service learning, will change the entire culture of the school including behaviors, actions, and core values. (Freeman et al, 2020) “Service-learning is an experiential learning pedagogy that moves students beyond the classroom to become active participants in their learning and develop civic knowledge and skills” (Suffolk, 2017). This teaching and learning strategy integrates meaningful community service, and social interaction with civic education to enrich the learning experience, student’s personal leadership and strengthens communities. (Suffolk, 2017) It is important to note that between the ages of 8-18 is especially a critical time for student’s, as “it is a time when many are making important decisions about their future and their relationship to the world, as they develop socially, cognitively and physically” (Bauml et al 2021, Kahne and Middaugh 2015).

Berke (2010) provides a clear link between advocacy service learning opportunities and positive outcomes institution wide. This includes not only educating students on their rights, value of their unique perspective, and effectiveness of using their voice, but also provide a platform for students to develop the necessary skills. Service learning has been proven to aid in student development in the following areas: “personal (e.g., increased self-efficacy), professional (e.g., increased communication skills), interpersonal (e.g., better understanding of other cultures), social (e.g., increased social responsibility), and academic (e.g., improvement in academic performance)” (Berke, 2010, 15) The basic life skills, whether soft or hard, are essential to produce active and educated citizens. Establishing internship and practicum sites, exposure to macro level practices, and encouraging use of one’s voice has proven positive benefits for both students and facilitators. (Berke, 2010) Evidence shows that agencies and institutions are benefitted through “having an advocacy project successfully completed that they may not have had time or other resources to complete and exposing them to our students and their capabilities.”(Berke, 2010, 16) This not only builds collaboration across the community, but also assists in career and college exploration amongst students. Civic education through service-learning is a useful tool to develop students, facilitators, schools and external agencies holistically.

We theorize that this proven evidence can be adapted to create a feasible civic engagement plan for your school, or a system wide initiative. We also anticipate that increasing civic education through advocacy service learning will encourage students to have conversations with their parents. Although we advocate for the inclusion of advocacy service learning, we are intentional in highlighting its implementation in classroom curricula, extracurricular activities and its subsequent effect on the external community. It is important that society does not depend solely on social science teachers to civilly develop America's young leaders during instruction, but make engaging in our civic duties a habit of nature. Civic development through education hopes to construct learning through two main constructs: the action civics approach that involves educating and empowering students to advocate to improve personally relevant issues, and the civic purpose approach is “a construct for measuring and describing civic development that considers socialization and developmental processes as adolescents progress into adulthood” (Bauml et al, 2021, 2). These approaches can look different across states, school systems, institutions, grade levels, classrooms, and individuals. Yet, meeting the goal of developing an experienced and informed citizenry begins with affinity, commitment, and a strategic plan of engagement. This workshop will use this supporting evidence to make civic engagement and education planning easy, fun, feasible, and adaptive.

Bauml, M., Quinn, B. P., Blevins, B., Magill, K. R., & LeCompte, K. (2021). “I really want to do something”: How Civic Education Activities Promote Thinking Toward Civic Purpose Among Early Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 074355842110067.

Berke, D. (2010). Advocacy as Service-Learning. Family Science Review, 15(1).

Freeman, K. J., Condron, D. J., & Steidl, C. R. (2020). Structures of Stratification: Advancing a Sociological Debate over Culture and Resources. Critical Sociology, 46(2), 191–206.

Kahne, J., & Middaugh, E. (2015). High Quality Civic Education: What is it and Who Gets it? Social Studies Today, 189–198.

Suffolk University. (2017, August 01). Modes of Service-Learning. Retrieved September 10, 2022, from

Learning Objective 1

Participants will be able tol earn about the act of advocacy as a focus of service learning to develop soft/hard skills, increase civic literacy, and encourage public service amongst students.

Learning Objective 2

Participants will be able to create a feasible civic engagement strategic plan that empowers the next generation of bureaucrats through political exposure, self-expression, and public service at any grade level. This includes identifying a diverse group of students, student organizations, and community partners to pilot the program with.

Learning Objective 3

Participants will be able to internalize the basic tenets of civility to enhance quality of facilitation and discussion, fostering a campus culture of informed, active, and confident student leaders among all students..

Keyword Descriptors

Civic engagement, politics, voting, nonpartisan, strategy, participation, public policy

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-8-2023 9:45 AM

End Date

3-8-2023 11:00 AM


Mar 8th, 9:45 AM Mar 8th, 11:00 AM

The Age-less Citizen: Cultivating a Civically Engaged K-12 Community Through the Use of Service Learning

Session Eight Breakouts (Plimsoll)

The Age-less Citizen will analyze evidence-based civic education studies and explore proactive student engagement strategies to build an individualized nonpartisan action plan for each school represented. From sending election reminders home by a kindergartener, to including local school board meetings on school newsletter and calendars, attendees will take away practical tips and tools to restore faith in the younger generation's ability to improve our democracy.