University Students Become Engaged Citizens
This spring, Georgian university students completed the first interactive, university-level civic education course in the country, developed and implemented with the support of USAID. “We gave the right to govern to our government; it was not the government that gave us our rights,” remarked one student, reflecting on part of an awakening twenty years after independence from the former Soviet Union.
The new course introduces Georgian students to the funda-mentals of civic activism and teaches them about participatory democracy and governance, human rights, citizen engagement and the importance of the constitution as a guiding document – all within the context of Georgia’s democratic development. The unique course stirred a positive shift in attitudes and helped to lessen a general sense of apathy toward volunteerism among Georgian students.
During the research project portion of the course, students took on Georgia’s democratic development and discovered a passion for promoting the decisive role of citizens. Students focusing on Georgia’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) returned to IDP camps after their project was completed to volunteer and provide charitable support. Other students focusing on the health sector organized a campus blood drive and started a media campaign that encouraged participation.
At the end of the 2012 spring semester, the course will have been taught in six universities reaching over 800 students, with the potential for this number to double in the coming academic year. This project helps mobilize future voters and leaders of the country now and challenge them to be proactive, informed and interested citizens building a democratic Georgia.
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