Fifth- through ninth-graders learn about civics and provide a rich resource for Baylor faculty research during the annual Baylor University iEngage Summer Civics Institute. Having launched in 2013, the one-week summer day camp is hosted by Baylor School of Education through a grant from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.
The camp’s curriculum teaches children about civic action and political participation. Campers meet local civic leaders and office-holders before developing their own action plan for civic change. During the weeklong camp, they learn about the structure of government and other civic-related topics by playing digital games on iCivics.org. The camp originated from faculty research tied to Baylor's collaboration with iCivics, the organization founded by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Institute co-director Dr. Brooke Blevins said, “Not only does iEngage increase the participants’ civic knowledge, skills and propensity for action, it also impacts families and schools.”
The camp is furthering its impact by expanding to new locations, said co-director Dr. Karon LeCompte. In 2016, she and Dr. Lakia Scott took the iEngage curriculum to a Freedom School in Fort Worth that serves an all-male population of African-American middle school students.
“The iEngage Camp has proven to us that youth are interested in community issues,” LeCompte said. “They know they have a voice, and they care about making a difference.”
Also through the collaboration with iCivics, each summer an SOE graduate student or faculty member serves as an iCivics Fellow in Washington, D.C., for six weeks.