From March 15 to 17, 2001, a group of 33 juniors and seniors representing 27 colleges and universities gathered at the Johnson Foundation in Racine, Wisconsin for the Wingspread Summit on Student Civic Engagement. The students were nominated by faculty and community service directors and asked to participate in a candid group discussion focused on their “civic experiences” in higher education. These students represented diverse institutions and diverse communities, which provided for a series of rigorous and provocative dialogues. Campus Compact’s purpose in organizing this meeting was to hear directly from students about how they view their own civic development rather than relying on surveys about student civic engagement.
This document describes student political and civic engagement as defined by students at the Summit. It examines contemporary conceptions of civic engagement, politics, and service and provides specific suggestions about how campuses can improve their commitment to student civic engagement through service-learning, increased support for student political activity, and attentiveness to student voice.