Civic Engagement Links
American Flag Below you’ll find links to readings, videos, documentaries, lectures, and other interactive tools that will help you think critically about your place, your politics, and your activities in your community and in the world at large.
If you have suggestions for things we could add to this list or if you find any broken links, let us know!
Readings and Blogs
Project on Civic Reflection – The Project on Civic Refection engages thousands of citizens across America in discussing short readings—poems, stories, essays, and religious scripture—as a means of reflecting on basic questions at the heart of their giving, service, and leadership. The link above is for a searchable database of their resource library, which contains hundreds of provocative short readings. Here’s a few of our favorites:
- The Lovers of the Poor – Gwendolyn Brooks
- A Bed for the Night – Bertolt Brecht
- What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Service – Adam Davis
- The Drum Major Instinct – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
GovGab – A popular daily blog from your government, featuring tips and and practical information to help make your life simpler. Entries are tailored to provide topical information on how your government is working, with subjects ranging from prom safety to health care legislation. Also take a look at this collection of other popular government blogs.
- Jobs, Education, and Volunteerism Blogs
- Environment, Energy, and Agriculture Blogs
- Science and Technology Blogs
Point of View Films – POV is television’s “longest-running showcase for independent nonfiction films.” This series of documentaries seeks to put a human face on social issues, challenging the idea that television is only a one-way medium. Documentary topics range from the world’s largest shopping mall to the effects of Hurricane Katrina to women bull fighters. Watch full-length videos online or find out what times you can watch them live.
TED – “Ideas Worth Spreading” – Begun in 1984 as a conference between thinkers in Technology, Entertainment, and Design, TED has grown into a much broader effort to support, record, and make available for free the world’s best ideas and most challenging speakers. Each 8-15 minute lecture offers enough material for hours of thought and discussion.
The Political Compass – The Political Compass is an interactive tool designed to measure your political attitudes and beliefs. It goes beyond the traditional “left-right” split that we typically use to describe political viewpoints and gives a more nuanced view of your social and economic preferences. Are you more like Hitler, Ghandi, the pope, or George W. Bush? You may be surprised…
Project Vote Smart – An invaluable resource for the informed citizen, Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan, non-interest-group, non-profit political organization dedicated to compiling information on your elected local, state, and national representatives. Information includes voting records, position papers, speeches, short biographies, campaign finances and more. Project Vote Smart also tracks important votes as they pass through Congress and State Governments and provides updated news on legislative issues. See below for the national representatives from Illinois.
- Senator Richard Durbin (D)
- Senator Mark Kirk (R)
- See our UIS Votes page for further information on Illinois state and national government.
The Civic Literacy Quiz – Think you know civics? Take the quiz and find out. The American Civic Literacy Program developed this online quiz to test the effect that a college education has on civic knowledge. The average score for all Americans is only 45%!
- Also check out their Online Lecture Library, a continually updated collection of over 400 different videos on everything from racial profiling to national security to the appropriate size of government.
60 Second Civics – The Center for Civic Education releases this podcast daily, a 60 second mini-lesson on the history, debates, and compromises that govern our democracy.
Supreme Court – Writ of habeus corpus, denial of certiorari, judicial precedent, and quo warranto. Still with us? Then the Supreme Court podcast is for you. This podcast brings up to date information and analysis of recent Supreme Court decisions. And don’t worry, you don’t need to know what any of the words above mean. The debates and analysis are clear and easy to follow.