Problems of Democracy (POD)

Problems of Democracy (POD)


As I was coming of age in my hometown of Homestead, a small suburban community of Pittsburgh, civic engagement was pretty much an expectation. I am a child of the sixties, raised duing the Civil Rights Movement by a single black woman who was a mother and an activist. Needless to say there was a lot going on .

One of the classes I enjoyed in high school was POD, Problems of Democracy. It was during this class that I read the consititution in its entirely for the first time and actually discussed its contents, giving me much deeper insight into what was going on around me. I liked the class title because of its inherent implication that there were indeed problems in our democracy as evidenced by the social climate, but more importantly, that civic engagement was viewed as a crucial component to solving those problems. So, civic engagement became a part of  my lifestyle. But really what it boils down to is my love for people and communiity, way beyond just my own.

I found this description of civic engagement in Wikipedia and it pretty well sums how I viewed civic engagement then and how I view it now.

Civic engagement or civic participation, according to the American Psychological Association, is “individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern”. It can be defined as citizens working together to make a change or difference in the community. Civic engagement includes communities working together in both political and non-political actions. The goal of civic engagement is to address public concerns and promote the quality of the community.  

I also like the New York Times definition:

Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.

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