Relevant concepts and Civic Engagement Glossary 

Key concepts/ Key terms

Civic engagement:
There are many ways in which people participate in civic, community and political life and, by doing so, express their engaged citizenship. From volunteering to voting, from community organizing to political advocacy, the defining characteristic of active civic engagement is the commitment to participate and contribute to the improvement of one’s community, neighborhood and nation. (Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement)

Deliberative dialogue:
The process of dialogue, as it is usually understood can bring many benefits to civic life – an orientation toward constructive communication, the dispelling of stereotypes, honesty in relaying ideas, and the intention to listen to and understand the other. A related process, deliberation, brings a different benefit – the use of critical thinking and reasoned argument as a way for citizens to make decisions on public policy. Deliberative dialogue combines these two processes in order to create mutual understanding, build relationships, solve public problems, address policy issues, and to connect personal concerns with public concerns. (Adapted from “Deliberative Dialogue to Expand Civic Engagement,” by Martha McCoy and Patrick Scully of the Study Circles Resource Center, in the Summer 2002 National Civic Review.)

For an exhaustive and growing glossary of deliberative terms, visit the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation’s

Quick Reference Glossary


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