Undergraduate Civic Leadership Minor


The interdisciplinary Civic Leadership Minor provides students with theoretical understanding and practical experience associated with civic leadership and prepares students to be responsibly engaged, social justice oriented citizens and community leaders.


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Civic Leadership: What does it look like?


"In my life, civic leadership is taking responsibility for the things I care deeply about. It is showing unlimited liability for a specific group of people. It is service that speaks to my soul.”

- Luke Scarpino, Civic Leadership Minor Alumnus


"[Civic leadership is] working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make a difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes."

- Thomas Ehrlich, Former Dean of Stanford Law School; Former President of Indiana University; and Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching


Civic Leadership skill set

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Civic Leadership Minor students will focus skill-building in the following areas:


  • Build Concensus for Public Action
  • Group and Meeting Facilitation
  • Social Organizing
  • Colaborate Effectively in Diverse Contexts
  • Support Democratic Decision-Making
  • Communication
  • Community-Engaged Research
  • Project Management and Evaluation


“One of the most important skills I developed through the CL is listening. While many may not considered this important, I do, especially as a leader. The ability to listen to others’ concerns is essential in collaboration and conflict resolution... Listening is a skill that everyone can master; it’s adjusting your leadership skills to each and every encounter you have with individuals."

- Mai Moua, Civic Leadership Minor Alumna


“Through ongoing community work… I've developed teaching skills, improved my communication ability and increased my ability to stay focused. Specifically, I've learned how to work with different cultures and create and offer technical training in ways that are easier to understand. I've also learned how to be more patient and recognize how little things make lasting differences that ripple through the community.”

- Derek Hayden, Civic Leadership Minor Alumnus


Civic Leadership Minor: What is it?

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Civic Leadership Minor: Where can it take you?

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Civic leadership minor students administer door-to-door surveys to collect resident feedback for the creative development of alternative uses of unpaved roads(e.g.,community gardens, book exchanges, etc) in NE and SE Portland. To increase resident input, students also organized and facilitated community meetings sponsored by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Mayor's office.



“I have graduated and I work with technology and multimedia. I launched a (second) start-up that I'm building while continuing client work and working another part-time job. I plan to start a non-profit in the near future based on providing tech training to at-risk, low-income and displaced demographics. The mission of this organization will be to increase opportunity and work to build a more tech literate and effective society via training and accessibility”

-Derek Hayden, Civic Leadership Minor Alumnus


Civic Leadership Minor Alumni Highlights

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Alexandrea Bursheim

"[The] Civic Leadership Minor is a part of the reason that I am where I am today. The Civic Leadership Minor gave me a strong base of philosophy and knowledge that carries through the work I do in the community, and helped me recognize that I wanted to and could do meaningful work as my career... [T]he Civic Leadership Minor has inspired me to come from a place of understanding and recognize that every person I work with has gifts and abilities waiting to be shared... [T]he Civic Leadership Minor has given me the tools to help me become a community focused leader." Click to read more.

Geoffrey Janke

"The Civic Leadership Minor at PSU provided the necessary inspiration to step up and lead... in my community. Capacity building, community cohesion, and relationship building are required elements of any sustainable community. The study of Civic Leadership affirms these values and provides direction in how one becomes a leader in their community." Click to read more.

Emma Johnson

"When I was first headed to PSU, I was seeking to pursue a career that didn't just pay the bills but would add meaning to my life and give me a reason bigger than myself to get up in the morning. I ended up choosing the Civic Leadership Minor and it transformed the way I look at work, citizenship, and community, eventually leading me to the work I'm doing today." Click to read more.

 Dana Kinney

"Since finishing the Civic Leadership Minor and graduating, I have continued to volunteer my time in different organizations around Portland that focus on hunger, homelessness, and mental health concerns. Most recently I was hired on by a local nonprofit, Our House of Portland, to help run and manage their Pantry and Donation center. A lot of what I have accomplished so far is a direct result of the community work I did while in the Civic Leadership Minor at PSU. I have had the greatest opportunity to take what I have learned in a class setting, whether the experience was through conversation with other students, professors or people of other professions, and apply the lessons to my daily life." Click to read more.

 Eric Noll

"The civic leadership minor brought me to PSU... Much of my work as the president of the student body utilized the academic and practicum-based lessons from classes in the minor... I consider the civic leadership minor foundational to my development and continued success in public service. As I move forward to a career in higher education policy, the value of the minor will always be present." Click to read more. 

 Luke Scarpino

"The Civic Leadership Minor at Portland State University has allowed me to live my dream. Through intensive projects, service learning, and networking opportunities I left college ready to achieve my goals. I applied for over 7 jobs with the resume and webpage I developed in my Civic Leadership Seminar class. I landed interviews at 5 locations, was offered 5 jobs, and accepted two jobs that I love." Click to read more.


Civic Leadership Minor: Why you, Why now?

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The interdisciplinary Civic Leadership minor provides students with theoretical understanding and practical experience associated with civic leadership and prepares students to be responsibly engaged, social justice oriented citizens and community leaders. 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 6-credit community-based civic leadership practicum is required as part of the minor. The practicum requirement may be fulfilled by the successful completion of a PSU Senior Capstone course -or- by an independently developed and pre-approved 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 department requirements.

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

Faculty Advisor
Peter Chaillé, Ph.D., NTT Faculty and Undergraduate Curriculum Lead for Public Administration
Mark O. Hatfield School of Government

Civic Leadership Minor Program Outcomes

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Civic leadership minor students will learn how to positively affect the common good. Students will substantively explore:

1. Leadership theory, context and practice:
  Describe, analyze and apply leadership theories and concepts to historical, current, societal and personal contexts. Apply the theories of leadership to multiple social issues in varied community and cultural contexts through community engaged learning and projects.
2. Social change mechanisms:
  Explain governance, social, and political mechanisms for facilitating social change.
3. Personal and collective ethics, responsibility and agency:
  Demonstrate an understanding of individual and collective ethics and responsibility to multiple communities, cultures and political constituencies. Think critically and self-reflectively about personal roles in social and political structures.
4. Key civic leadership skills:
  Practice key civic leadership skills, such as democratic decision-making, collaborating effectively in diverse contexts, communication, community-engaged research, building consensus, facilitation, social organizing, project management, etc.
5. Effective public action:
  Conceptualize, develop, implement and evaluate opportunities for effective public action.
6. Core civic leadership concepts:
  Synthesize and integrate concepts, relevant theories and frameworks of leadership, collaboration, community engagement, culture, social capital and social justice in contemporary civil society.

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