By Chapman Rackaway
Civic engagement depends as much on foundational skills as it does passion for citizen leadership in a democracy. As literature has found civic engagement among college students having declined significantly in the last fifty years, the reason for that decline may be skills-related instead of or in addition to motivation-related. Colleges have begun to offer civic engagement programming in their curricular and co-curricular offerings, but to what extent? To contribute to answering the skills-related portion of the civic engagement question, this article asks, “How much do higher education institutions devote to promoting the foundational skills of civic education, specifically media literacy? “ Using a survey of American Democracy Project institutions, the author finds that media literacy education at member schools is at a nascent stage, much as service learning was in the 1990’s. Most media literacy is embedded in other curricula and not expressed as media literacy per se, with co-curricular programming lagging behind. A comprehensive best-practices offering of media literacy offerings is proposed as a method of advancing media literacy education as a foundational skill for advancing student civic engagement.