Civic engagement goes beyond voting, and there are many ways to get involved in your community even when there are not elections actively happening! Below, you can find several tools and ideas for engaging as an active citizen and member of your community.
Being Civically Engaged
Explore Leadership and Community Engagement
Buck-I-SERV: Ohio State's alternative breaks program provides students an opportunity to participate in week-long, substance-free service trips across the country and internationally. On trips, students learn about social issues, build friendships and enjoy life-changing experiences.
Nonprofit Immersion Program: The cohort of students who are paired with nonprofit organizations in Columbus. Students meet regularly with their local nonprofit partner and serve as non-voting members of the organizations' boards for one year, where they learn about the inner workings of a nonprofit.
Pay It Forward: The local service student-led cohort provides other Ohio State students with regular, easily-accessible service opportunities on campus and in the Columbus community. Working to help students pursue their passions within service, Pay It Forward educates and exposes students to avenues of civic engagement in a variety of areas.
Semester of Service: A leadership and service program that matches Ohio State students with local nonprofit organizations. This experience provides students the opportunity to gain insight into the values and function of community service, while making a semester-long commitment to serve at a single agency.
Recent OSU Votes panels:
- O-H-I-Organizing: A Student Perspective on Community Organizing: Watch a panel of student community leaders to learn more about what community organizing is, how to balance it as a student, and where to get started.
- Civic Engagement: Choose Your Own Adventure: Watch this discussion of a variety of levels of civic engagement so you can choose your own adventure as you engage with your community.
Engage at The Ohio State University
Center for Ethics and Human Values (CEHV) is Ohio State's hub for rigorous and respectful discussion on the ethical challenges that shape our university and the broader community.
Join a Student Organizationfocused on awareness/activism, community service/service learning, governance organizations, or any that fits your civic engagement needs of the over 1,400 student organization at Ohio State.
Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA) seeks to make democracy more deliberative – to empower people to talk across differences, find common ground, and build political change for the public good.
Student Life Center for Belonging and Social Change (CBSC) works in partnership with students, campus partners and community stakeholders to cultivate an inclusive, empowering and equity-minded campus community. They do this through community building and support, education and empowerment, outreach and social change.
Connect with Your Community
Contact Your Local Representatives: You have the right to contact your representatives with concerns, questions, and any inquiries you may have for those in power representing you! Visit the Ohio House of Representatives site to find your local representatives by county. Additionally, if you are from out-of-state and want to find your own local representatives, the United States House of Representatives site has a handy locator tool!
Volunteer Your Time: Volunteering is just one way to contribute in your community, and there is never a shortage of demand for volunteers. According to the Ohio Commision of Service and Volunteerism, Ohioans contributed 278 million hours of service last year. The SERVE Ohio website also conveniently lists up-to-date opportunities for any volunteer-based needs in your community, sorted by county.
Attend City Council Meetings: City Council meetings are open to the public and are great ways to engage with your community while ensuring your voice is heard. Find information for attending these meetings below based on your campus:
Follow a Variety of News Sources: We recognize that no news organization can be completely nonpartisan, so we recommend following a range of news sources to draw your own conclusions about current events. Nonpartisan organizations we recommend include WOSU and NPR, in addition to international coverage of the U.S. such as BBC News and Al Jazeera.