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Undergraduate Civic Leadership Minor

The interdisciplinary Civic Leadership minor provides students with theoretical and practical understanding about civic leadership, and prepares students to be responsibly engaged citizens and community leaders.

Civic Leadership Minor Requirements

Students who minor in civic leadership must complete core and elective courses for a total of 34 credits (at least 20 of which must be taken in residence at PSU). Some of these courses have prerequisites, and students should read course descriptions in the current PSU Bulletin before registration. A pre-approved 6-credit community-based civic leadership practicum is required as part of the minor, The practicum requirement may be fulfilled by a pre-approved capstone or by an independently developed community-based learning experience.

All courses submitted to satisfy the requirements for a minor, whether taken at PSU or elsewhere, must be passed with a grade of "C" (2.00 GPA) or above. Courses taken under the undifferentiated grading option (pass/no pass) will not be accepted toward fulfilling division major requirements.

Students are encouraged to take courses for the minor that complement their academic interests and scholarly goals. Students considering a minor in civic leadership are strongly encouraged to consult with the Civic Leadership Minor Coordinator or the Hatfield School undergraduate advisor to create an instructional program that meets their needs.

Faculty Advisor:

Kevin Kecskes

Required courses (12 credits total)

PA 311U Introduction to Civic Engagement (4)
PA 312U Foundations of Community Leadership (4)
PA 415 Civic Leadership Integrative Seminar (4)

Civic Leadership electives (8 credits needed, choose two from below)

PA 313U Fundamentals of Public Service
PA 412 Civic Engagement: The Role of Governing Institutions
PA 413 Civic Engagement: The Role of Individuals
PA 414 Civic Engagement: The Role of Social Institutions
PA 417U Ethical Leadership

Other electives (8 credits required; choose two from below)

CCJ 350U Ethical Leadership in Criminal Justice
COMM 313U Communication in Groups
ELP 318U Educational Leadership in Public Schools
ELP 450U Introduction to Leadership for Sustainability
PA 314U SPST: Students as Leaders
PA 315U Managing People for Change
PA 399 (PA 316) Leadership in New Student Programs
PA 420 Introduction to Nonprofit Management
PA 425 Grantwriting for Nonprofit Organizations
PS 312 Legislative Process
PS 318U Media, Opinion and Voting
PS 325U Politics and the Legal Enforcement of Morals
PS 417 Interest Groups
PS 431 State and Local Politics
USP 350 Concepts of Public Participation

Community-based practicum (6 credits total)

Course Descriptions

PA 311U: Introduction to Civic Engagement (4) This course examines the concept of civic engagement by exploring how relationships are strengthened and communication is nurtured among members of society, and how this contributes to a civic identity that promotes socially conscious thought and action. The course will examine the values, skills and actions that contribute to a sense of civic identity through assigned readings, lectures, discussions, group activities, and self-reflection. A central goal of this course is to help students prepare for a lifetime of responsible citizenship and civic engagement This course includes a community-based learning project.

PA 312U: Foundations of Community Leadership (4) This course explores the role of community leadership in advancing civic engagement, civil society, civic capacity, community-building, reasoned debate and other key civic virtues in democratic societies. Students will integrate leadership theory with practical observations in the context of the United States' sociopolitical history and the role of civic engagement in our evolving social system. The course builds a definition for community leadership that recognizes the close interface between the role of public servants as agents of policy implementation and the role of citizens as active stewards of the public good.

PA 313U: Fundamentals of Public Service (4) This course explores how public service informs the roles of public/nonprofit organizations in social change. The course introduces conceptual public service frameworks and will explore the historical dimensions, underlying values and external forces that shape contemporary public service. Ways for community members to influence public policy through civic engagement will be addressed.

PA 314U: SPST: Students as Leaders (4) This course introduces the concepts of leadership through student leadership in higher education from both theoretical and practical perspectives.  Students will explore their own competencies using the Social Change Model in relation to individuality, group dynamics and community building.  Through readings, case studies, class activities, reflection, discussion, interviews, and research, students will examine leadership as an inclusive, relational process through which individuals and groups can create social change.

PA 315U: Managing people for change captures the dynamics and issues at play for public organizations that now require a more nimble response to external influences in order to remain relevant to their multiple constituencies. Consequently, valuing human capital; recruiting and retaining a valuable workforce; inter generational challenges; workplace politics; an aging workforce; and social justice; job segregation; the class ceiling; and wage disparities are among the many topics discussed. While this course is primarily targeted to those who aspire to work in public sector organizations and/or in public-private partnerships those with a penchant for improving organizational effectiveness, and thus organizational performance, by recognizing the value of human capital will benefit from this course as well.

PA 399 (316): Leadership in New Student Programs (4) This course focuses on developing an understanding of the transitional needs of students and their families upon entering Portland State University (PSU).  You will explore the demographics of the PSU student body and identify student development theory in relationship to Campus Visits, Recruitment, and Orientation.  Key topics include: utilizing the Change Model of Leadership Development, understanding campus services, teamwork, communication, student development, leadership development, diversity, and problem solving.

PA 412: Civic Engagement: The Role of Governing Institutions (4) This course develops understanding of how local governments carry out their governance responsibilities and the roles they play within the larger scheme of the American democratic system. The goal is to assess how the structures and processes of local governments affect opportunities for democratic accountability, citizen participation, the development of civic capacity, citizenship and civic leadership. Prerequisite: PA 311 or 312

PA 413: Civic Engagement: The Role of Individuals (4) This course provides an overview of the role of the individual in civic engagement processes. Students will develop an understanding of the variety and forms of engagement processes in which individuals participate within local and national governments and public organizations. The course focuses on developing students' ability to critically analyze a variety of civic engagement processes and understand the consequences, limitations, opportunities, and benefits of these various processes. Students will examine whether individuals have equal opportunities to engage in political and social decision making structures, and how they serve as change agents to address social injustice. Prerequisite: PA 311, 312 or 313

PA 414: Civic Engagement: The Role of Social Institutions (4) This course develops an understanding of the roles that social institutions (voluntary associations, public interest groups, educational and religious institutions, and nonprofit organizations) play within democratic societies. Additionally, the course investigates the literature on social institutions and social capital, including their historical development, modern forms, social functions, and ways in which they shape individuals' participation in governing processes. Students will examine the relationships among socially sustainable communities, strong social institutions and private interests by analyzing the mechanisms that generate participation and deliberation. Prerequisite: PA 311 or 312

PA 415: Civic Leadership Integrative Seminar (4) This seminar is devoted to exploring, investigating, discussing, understanding, and synthesizing the theoretical understandings and practical applications of civic leadership. Students will have an opportunity to reflect upon, synthesize, and showcase their knowledge through development of a portfolio that demonstrates their learning about civic leadership. Prerequisite: One of PA 311, 312 or 313, plus one of PA 412, 413 or 414.

PA 417U: Ethical Leadership (4) This course explores potential ethical conflicts faced by leaders in public and community service. The course will provide students with ethical leadership models that will help them to judge the ethical compromises that may put personal, professional, organizational, and public service values in conflict with one another. Coursework will include a review of the theoretical concepts that underpin ethical leadership and will explore their practical application through case studies and the experiences of elected and career public officials who have faced ethical dilemmas in public and community service. Prerequisite: PA 312 or 313

PA 420: Introduction to Nonprofit Management (4) This course introduces students to a wide range of management issues as well as best management practices for not-for-profit organizations. It addresses the following: the executive director as manager; aspects of board governance; volunteers/staff relations; personnel administration; budgeting and financial management; fund raising and sources of revenue; long-range planning; and, community organization.

PA 425: Grantwriting for Nonprofit Organizations (4) Students will acquire necessary skills to write successful grant proposals for foundations and other private funders. Students will learn how to: develop a project idea, plan a project or program, cultivate and work with prospective funders, develop and write a proposal, and generally learn skills to strengthen the grant-seeking process.

Check us out in action!

Our students have been working on the Malden Court Community Orchard project over the past academic year as part of the PSU Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative.  

Media Coverage: "Food Forest' takes root in Lents"

We've worked with the City of Portland to help assess public interest in projects on unpaved roads.

Media Coverage: KATU and OPB


Note: we announced a revised course of study for the Civic Leadership Minor in Spring 2013. Students who began their program of study prior to Winter Term 2013 may use courses previously approved to count toward the minor requirements. When you run your DARS report for the minor, select a catalog term/year that is older than Winter 2013. This will show the "old" requirements and your progress toward completing them. You should use the same catalog to check requirements for both your major and minor (e.g. Fall 2011).