PIA Awarded Grant to Study Civic Health

Posted: February 28, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The Department of Public and International Affairs (PIA) has been awarded a $1.49 million grant by the Pew Charitable Trusts for a two-year project to study and track the level of civic engagement among the U.S. public, with a focus on young people ages 15-22. George Mason is leading a consortium of universities in the project, including Rutgers University, Loyola University of Chicago, and the University of California at Berkeley.

The principal goal of the project is to develop a new set of indicators of civic engagement, with special attention to the political involvement of America’s youth. These indicators will be used by researchers and civic organizations to monitor the state of the nation’s “civic health” and to assess the effectiveness of programs aimed at improving participation in civic affairs.

Scott Keeter, PIA chair, will direct the project. The department will create a new center for the study and promotion of civic engagement to house its activities in the area of citizenship, including George Mason’s partnership with the Virginia Citizenship Institute.

The research team will begin its study with two sets of expert panels in March, which will bring together a variety of leaders and thinkers working to encourage young people to become active in politics. Following the panels, the researchers will conduct a series of focus groups with citizens in four different locations around the country. The results of the focus groups will be used to create a set of telephone surveys, which will provide a comprehensive portrait of civic engagement in America today and also yield a baseline for tracking change over time.

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