What We Do
Civic Life Project is a 501c3 nonprofit organization which partners with schools to teach Civic Courses in an exciting and dramatic new way. We motivate high school and college students to explore public issues in their local communities through the making of a 6-8 minute documentary film.
· It is a journey of discovery in which students select an issue they feel passionate about, research, dissect, understand all of its aspects, take a position and present it in a video.
· It is a “learning by doing” project that makes civics come alive as no text book or lecture series can.
· It makes civic engagement and social responsibility interesting, involving and above all relevant to today’s young people and the lives they lead.
· It helps students not only comprehend the complexity of issues, but to respect, appreciate and include diverse views.
The films take on critical issues. Students have tackled everything from the death penalty, to sexual assaults on college campuses, to drugs, police brutality, bullying and many more.Once completed, they are presented at local and statewide screenings. Exceptional films have been submitted to films festivals in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.
The documentary film making process is uniquely suited to combating current apathy and disinterest about civics as well as distrust of government among today’s youth.The contemporary digital platform is already familiar and accepted among this group for entertainment and communication.Now it becomes a tool for exploration, analysis, expression.But even more important is what they learn in the process. Namely, that they have the ability to examine knotty issues and take a position. That it is within their power to express that position.That they have a stake in the outcome and a right to be heard and down the road…perhaps even a chance to change the world.
"Just what modern kids need--a way to be creative on their terms while learning how to be good citizens! A transforming experience--and just what America needs, too."
- Bill Moyers, Journalist
A brilliant project. It puts video cameras in the hands of students to go out into the community and tell community stories. It helps students walk across that invisible line that often separates the college or the school from the community."
- Parker Palmer, Ph. D., Author
"I am most impressed with your interactions with students – students were excited, interested, thinking and talking, sharing ideas, working as a team."
Superintendent Reg.1 Connecticut
The benefits of the Civic Life Project are extraordinary. That responsibility for creating something good and that is representative of what students want to express is an opportunity that we don’t get to offer in a regular classroom."
Principal, Salisbury Central School
The Civic Life Project IN HIGHER EDUCATION
At the course’s conclusion, faculty and staff, politicians, public servants, as well as neighbors and ordinary citizens were invited to view the films at a breakfast and then hold round table discussions on the issues being explored. A recent such breakfast attracted over 500 people attended, explored the subject matter of the documentaries and exchange views.
The Civic Life Project has been piloting a college version of the program at Lawrence University in Appleton Wisconsin. What is interesting is that many of the participants came from outside the area and thus provided a different viewpoint to issues being grappled with in the community.