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Engaging Young Citizens

TCU hosted the iEngage Summer Civics Institute for the fourth year, revealing more about how middle schoolers interact with issues affecting their communities.

Michelle Bauml, Ph.D.

Michelle Bauml, Winter Professor of Education, leads the five-day camp designed to help middle school students learn how to make a difference in their neighborhood, school and community.

Camp activities include visiting with elected officials, researching community issues and playing digital civics simulation games. Students develop an advocacy project and a webpage for a community issue they research and discuss.

Baylor University has hosted an iEngage Summer Civics Institute since 2013 and Bauml received funding from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation to host a camp at TCU for the first time in 2016. She and TCU and Baylor faculty review data from each of the camps to determine what activities affect children’s knowledge and influence their attitudes about taking civic action.

Preliminary findings from 2018 data indicate that campers enjoyed various civic-oriented activities because they found them informative, interesting, personally meaningful and relevant for real life application. Additionally, findings show that most camp activities stimulated thinking about goals in life, as well as possibilities for current and future civic action, regardless of grade level.

“[These students are] starting to think about themselves in relation to the world, and they’re old enough to talk about difficult topics, like refugees and migration and homelessness, in a sophisticated way. I could see that this kind of a project had so much potential in terms of benefits for the children attending, for their futures and for the community at large — because now we have a population of young people who are taking interest in their communities.” Bauml said in an interview with TCU Magazine.

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