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Pathways of Public Service & Civic Engagement

What Are Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement?

The Pathways of Public Service describe a range of possibilities by which we can make a contribution to the common good and provide the "big tent" for the programs the Haas Center delivers and supports. These pathways intersect and overlap, demonstrating the interdependent nature inherent in working toward the common good. There is no one single path and people move in and out of these pathways over time.

The six pathways included in the Haas Center's strategic plan are

  1. Community Engaged Learning and Research: Connecting coursework and academic research to community-identified concerns to enrich knowledge and inform action on social issues.
  2. Community Organizing and Activism: Involving, educating, and mobilizing individual or collective action to influence or persuade others.
  3. Direct Service: Working to address the immediate needs of individuals or a community, often involving contact with the people or places being served.
  4. Philanthropy: Donating or using private funds or charitable contributions from individuals or institutions to contribute to the public good.
  5. Policy and Governance: Participating in political processes, policymaking, and public governance.
  6. Social Entrepreneurship and Corporate Social Responsibility: Using ethical business or private sector approaches to create or expand market-oriented responses to social or environmental problems.
Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement
  • Have local, national and international audiences and populations of interest.
  • Are imbedded in all careers in the public, private and independent sectors, and not limited to any segment of the economy.
  • Require different but interconnected actions: education through community dialogue, direct provision of goods or services, statements and actions that support social justice and address inequities, creation of new knowledge, and development of resources that support the work.
  • Are problem based, not discipline bound.
  • Result in measurable community impact.

Examples of Pathways

  • Volunteering with a local organization that distributes food to the homeless and develops and harvests community gardens to increase the capacity to reach more people;
  • Joining a community health center in their legislative advocacy efforts in Sacramento to ensure that mental health services continue to be funded in our safety net clinics;
  • Working with a local philanthropic foundation to develop a monitoring and evaluation tool for their grantees;
  • Meeting with and writing letters to local legislators to create support behind a ballot initiative;
  • Designing and building a rainwater cistern for an isolated rural community in Southern Mexico and evaluating its use and impact;
  • Assisting public health officials in the Surgeon General’s office to design a rational community health response to a swine flu outbreak;
  • Running for public office;
  • Tutoring immigrant elementary school students in English;
  • Surveying local industries and services for evidence of compliance with environmental and safety regulations.
A specific public service pathway may result from passion for a specific cause, expertise in a particular discipline, curiosity about a yet to be explored social issue, or connection with a specific community. No matter the reason for a call to action in the public interest, the Haas Center must commit to providing students the tools for effective and ethical public service, and enable communities to readily access the resources of the university to address their concerns.
As is true of nearly any attempt to classify concepts into discrete categories, this typology eventually breaks down as either too broad (too few categories) or too narrow (too many categories). For example, while social entrepreneurism could be conceived as a distinct pathway, we’ve opted to include it as an opportunity for engagement within several pathways. Similarly, Haas Center staff considered whether “activism” and “policy/politics” could be collapsed into a single “advocacy” pathway, but realized that doing so creates an overly broad construct. While debate upon such matters is undoubtedly useful, the intent of the pathways is to illuminate possibilities (not necessarily find the perfect means of grouping concepts).
The Principles of Ethical and Effective Service are a second program attribute that is shared between the student and community development. These principles should continue to serve as a foundation for our work with students and community partners.