What Are Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement?
The Pathways of Public Service describe a range of possibilities by which we can make
a contribution to the common good and provide the "big tent" for the programs the
Haas Center delivers and supports. These pathways intersect and overlap, demonstrating
the interdependent nature inherent in working toward the common good. There is no
one single path and people move in and out of these pathways over time.
The six pathways included in the Haas Center's strategic plan are
- Community Engaged Learning and Research: Connecting coursework and academic research to community-identified concerns to enrich
knowledge and inform action on social issues.
- Community Organizing and Activism: Involving, educating, and mobilizing individual or collective action to influence
or persuade others.
- Direct Service: Working to address the immediate needs of individuals or a community, often involving
contact with the people or places being served.
- Philanthropy: Donating or using private funds or charitable contributions from individuals or institutions
to contribute to the public good.
- Policy and Governance: Participating in political processes, policymaking, and public governance.
- Social Entrepreneurship and Corporate Social Responsibility: Using ethical business or private sector approaches to create or expand market-oriented
responses to social or environmental problems.
Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement
- Have local, national and international audiences and populations of interest.
- Are imbedded in all careers in the public, private and independent sectors, and not
limited to any segment of the economy.
- Require different but interconnected actions: education through community dialogue,
direct provision of goods or services, statements and actions that support social
justice and address inequities, creation of new knowledge, and development of resources
that support the work.
- Are problem based, not discipline bound.
- Result in measurable community impact.
Examples of Pathways
- Volunteering with a local organization that distributes food to the homeless and develops
and harvests community gardens to increase the capacity to reach more people;
- Joining a community health center in their legislative advocacy efforts in Sacramento
to ensure that mental health services continue to be funded in our safety net clinics;
- Working with a local philanthropic foundation to develop a monitoring and evaluation
tool for their grantees;
- Meeting with and writing letters to local legislators to create support behind a ballot
- Designing and building a rainwater cistern for an isolated rural community in Southern
Mexico and evaluating its use and impact;
- Assisting public health officials in the Surgeon General’s office to design a rational
community health response to a swine flu outbreak;
- Running for public office;
- Tutoring immigrant elementary school students in English;
- Surveying local industries and services for evidence of compliance with environmental
and safety regulations.
A specific public service pathway may result from passion for a specific cause, expertise
in a particular discipline, curiosity about a yet to be explored social issue, or
connection with a specific community. No matter the reason for a call to action in
the public interest, the Haas Center must commit to providing students the tools for
effective and ethical public service, and enable communities to readily access the
resources of the university to address their concerns.
As is true of nearly any attempt to classify concepts into discrete categories, this
typology eventually breaks down as either too broad (too few categories) or too narrow
(too many categories). For example, while social entrepreneurism could be conceived
as a distinct pathway, we’ve opted to include it as an opportunity for engagement
within several pathways. Similarly, Haas Center staff considered whether “activism”
and “policy/politics” could be collapsed into a single “advocacy” pathway, but realized
that doing so creates an overly broad construct. While debate upon such matters is
undoubtedly useful, the intent of the pathways is to illuminate possibilities (not
necessarily find the perfect means of grouping concepts).
The Principles of Ethical and Effective Service are a second program attribute that
is shared between the student and community development. These principles should continue
to serve as a foundation for our work with students and community partners.