Civic engagement is any time someone acts to better their community and encourages others to do it too.

Authentic civic engagement is built on a shared understanding of community needs and a deep commitment to collaboration. Students at Iowa can get involved in their local, state and national community in a variety of ways, including volunteering and community service, service-learning courses, and participation in political organizations. 

Why is civic engagement important?

Civic engagement can be a great way for you to develop positive relationships and make a difference in the lives of those involved in the community service projects. Service learning can also help you develop leadership skills and improve your ability to identify and solve problems. 

Where can I find these kinds of opportunities?

The Division of Student Life offers many opportunities for civic engagement. You can volunteer with the Food Pantry or Clothing Closet, work with local non-profits through Student United Way, or increase student voter turnout with Hawk the Vote. Check out the Leadership, Service and Civic Engagement website to learn more about these and many other civic engagement opportunities. To engage with service through your coursework, look at the Office of Community Engagement site.

How do you prepare?

One of the most important parts of civic engagement is picking the right opportunity. On-campus organizations are one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable and really make a commitment to being engaged. Look at the pages for all the civic engagement organizations on campus and decide which one is best for you, your schedule, and your goals. Consider what you want to get out of your engagement, how much time you are willing to commit, and what you want to give back to your community. Then reach out and get involved! 

Who can help?

One great way to get started with civic engagement is to set up an appointment with The Community Space to get some advisement on what kind of volunteer service would be best for you. You can also take the Introduction to Leadership class (LS:1020). This is a 3 S.H. course offered every spring and fall designed to help teach students how to be better leaders in their communities.  

woman pouring smoothie at fair

Volunteering and Community Service

The University of Iowa has a variety of service-based organizations that can help you get involved with the community and give back. If you aren’t sure where to start, set up an appointment with a volunteering advisor who can help you find a good service opportunity for you. 

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group of students sitting in a circle

Political Organization Participation

If you’re interested in political participation, the University of Iowa has a variety of opportunities. You can join an organization that aligns with a political party, one that focuses on a specific issue, or just one that is motivated to get people to the polls. See all the political student organizations by going to the organizations page Campus Labs and selecting ‘political’ in the categories dropdown menu.

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student government meeting

Student Government

You can get involved in government and leadership opportunities on campus in many different ways, including advisory boards and student group executive boards. Undergraduate Student Government is a great way to make an impact on the campus community and to serve your fellow students.

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