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Civic Engagement

 

What is Civic Engagement?

Civic engagement is the active participation of citizens in addressing issues of public interest. Civic engagement is when people are not indifferent to what is happening in their region, city or country. They can engage in civic activities by taking part in political and non-political actions to solve both social and economic problems.

 

Why is Civic Engagement Important?

Every year the citizens of Kyrgyzstan face many problems in the social environment they live in. According to the analysis of the data obtained (2019), the main issues of our capital – Bishkek – are as follows:

  • access to education;
  • assistance to internal migrants;
  • the leisure of children and youth;
  • additional education;
  • urban transport;
  • people with socially significant diseases;
  • medicine and healthcare.

To clarify, the activists identified the problems above based on the surveys conducted among the residents of Bishkek only. However, it is crucial to take into account the fact that there are about 30 cities and 453 villages in Kyrgyzstan, in total, which means that the scale of social problems that the citizens of our country face every day is much wider. Therefore, every citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic should be aware of the importance of being a caring citizen, fighting for and ensuring a high-quality and safe life for every citizen.

To illustrate, the Youth in Action movement is a vivid example of demonstrating the importance of civic engagement in our country. For the Citizens in Action project, our activists from the American University of Central Asia decided to focus on the disadvantaged areas of Bishkek, and presented the main problems that concern the residents of Ene-Sai and Maevka districts. Most of the problems were related to the lack of road signs, speed bumps and lighting. In addition, activists from the southern regions of Osh, Jalal-Abad, and Batken have done a tremendous job with local residents, solving problems with the bridge and transport in the village of Avtovokzal. Indeed, the cohesion of active citizens can be a great impetus and motivation for solving any problems in society.

As a result of unique teamwork within the framework of the Citizens in Action project, it was possible to achieve the allocation of funds: the Kemin District Development Fund transferred the necessary amount for the purchase of special equipment. The problem of lack of equipment was solved thanks to the activities of the initiative group and assistance from the authorities. Successful joint work of activists with the executive and representative authorities encouraged them to continue what they started and work on the existing problems in the village. In addition, residents have learned from their own experience that they have all the capabilities to solve problems and improve their own living conditions.

 

Types of Civic Engagement

The act of civic engagement can be carried out in different ways. To clarify the different types of engagement that are commonly held in Kyrgyzstan and to better understand how activists are involved in civic issues and community organizations, projects have been analyzed and categorized into four different classifications.

The following are the types of Civic Engagement in Kyrgyzstan (based on the work done by the Youth in Action movement):

 

 

1. Educating people for civic engagement


 

 

 

2. Engagement through social projects


 

 

 

3. Volunteerism


 

 

 

4. Political Engagement


 

 



Successful Examples Globally
  • ‘Rio +’ is one of the colossal projects in Brazil, which was realized by active citizens. Rio + is a platform on which any citizen can create a project for Rio de Janeiro at any scale, provided that it improves the city. A huge number of ideas are already listed, from mobile applications to tunnels connecting city districts. Rio + is easy to use and projects are categorized. Once listed, a feasibility study is initiated, the best ideas of which are voted on the internet and in the city of Rio, where people can choose the best design in each category. After the selection of the winners, the city authorities are responsible for the implementation of each of the projects.

 

  • In 2011, social justice leader Anna Khazar wanted to pressure politicians to pass the Yan Lokpal Act, India's long-standing anti-corruption policy. After the public initially sent out 80,000 SMS in support of the campaign, Anna invited people to join the movement by making “missed calls” to a local number. In two weeks, supporters made over 35 million calls. Building on the pioneering work of Anna and her team, a mobile petitioning tool called ‘Crowdring’ has been developed that turns free missed calls into petition signatures.

 

AUCA Community & Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement is deeply rooted within the values of AUCA as it strives to prepare future leaders of the Central Asian region. Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are among active participants in their communities. Serving the community, knowledge sharing, giving back to society are instilled through the spirit of our academic institution.

Click here to learn more about AUCA Community & Civic Engagement.

 

Certificate in Civic Engagement: OSUN Program   

Freshmen, sophomore and junior students, who have some experience in the field of civic engagement, are eligible to apply for the Certificate in Civic Engagement offered by the Open Society University Network (OSUN) & Bard College!

Program overview: The Certificate in Civic Engagement provides a structured path for undergraduate students interested in deepening their knowledge and understanding of civic and community engagement by merging curricular and co-curricular interests. The certificate sets out expectations that students will be knowledgeable about theories of citizenship, democratic participation, civil society, and social action, familiar with their local community, and cognizant of ways in which the local, national and global are linked. Courses that are a part of the certificate focus on themes related to civic engagement and/or the practice of it. The certificate is acknowledged on each student’s transcript.

Program requirements:

  • Courses: Four courses (24 ECTS credits total) that focus on a theory or practice of civic engagement. These courses can be a part of the regular curriculum of home institutions that are identified as fulfilling the requirements and/or OSUN and OSUN Network courses. At least one course needs to be an OSUN network or OSUN course.
    • One core course focusing on civic engagement and/or community engagement that will normally be the OSUN and Network course on Civic Engagement (or an approved alternative).
    • Two or more Community Engaged Courses that connect classroom learning/theory with practice, such as the network course on Social Entrepreneurship.
    • One course which studies the theories of civic engagement, democracy and social action, such as the OSUN network course on Global Citizenship or Human Rights Advocacy.
  • Culminating project: During the junior or senior year, students prepare a written analytic essay or other form of work linked to their engagement activities. When applicable, in place of the culminating project, students can incorporate the engagement analysis into an Engaged Senior/Capstone Project.

    Additionally, students can apply for the Student Initiative Development Program (SIDP) in order to develop their culminating project under the program and receive financial support (up to $1000 USD). The criteria for the projects is to address any social, economic, environmental, and educational challenges in the community. Students can learn more on the SIDP website.

  • Co-curricular activities: Students participate in 100 hours of co-curricular civic engagement activities during their course of study. The civic/community engagement activity can be developed through an on-campus program, an independent community engagement activity, or an appropriate and approved internship. Students will also be expected to attend co-curricular workshops on leadership and project management offered by OSUN and their home institution.
    Specifically, AUCA’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) provides several opportunities for students to gain the necessary amount of hours either via internship or volunteering activities. In order to learn more about these opportunities, students should directly contact the CCE via email: cce@auca.kg

 

* Program Requirements - PDF File

 

To learn more about the CE Certificate:

American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028