Building Engaged Citizens
Baylor’s iEngage Summer Civics Institute was named the 2022 recipient of the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education. The annual award, presented by the National Center for State Courts, honors an organization, court, program or individual that has promoted, inspired, improved or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system.
“The iEngage team embraces their responsibility to provide high-quality civic education to students and educators across various communities and has even bigger plans, including a high school internship program,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said in his nomination letter for the Baylor program. “I am so proud that Texas lays claim to this innovative and effective program, and I am hopeful that the model will expand to other states in time.”
Baylor’s iEngage Institute, founded in 2013, is a free, five-day civics camp designed to help middle school students learn how to make a difference in their schools, neighborhoods and communities. The program, funded by Baylor and the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation, is led by Baylor School of Education former faculty member Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., and current faculty member Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., associate professor of curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in social studies education.
The program focuses on the structure of government, what it means to be an active and engaged citizen and how participants can make an impact as young people. Current Baylor Education students are program counselors, giving them an opportunity to practice valuable skills and work with young people. Additionally, the institute features a field trip to a legislative library to explore primary source artifacts, simulations of effective communication and deliberation hosted by Baylor Law School, interfaces with local civic and political leaders, and playing iCivics games.
“We often see student impact through media coverage, including stories of campers who have gone on to organize community projects on their own, as well as through the many letters of appreciation we receive from campers, parent and teachers,” Blevins said.
More than 1,500 students, 40 teachers and 100 college students have participated in the iEngage program to date.