College Students Civically Engaged, But Wary of Spin, Says Grantee Report

College students, who make up as much as a quarter of the voting population, are more engaged in civic life than their counterparts a generation ago. Yet these students are wary of formal politics and disenchanted with what they consider “spin.”

The findings were issued in a national study released in November 2007 by Carnegie Corporation grantee the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement

The new report follows up on a baseline study published in 1993 which indicated that college students believed that politics had little impact on their lives.

The new findings suggest that men and women born after 1985 are more eager to become engaged politically and civically than their predecessors. Yet this same cohort, the first to be raised on the internet, discards much of the information available to them because of its polarizing and partisan nature. They are turned off by intensely combative political debate. Instead they prefer “authentic opportunities” for political discourse, the report says.Read the press release.

Carnegie Corporation supports grantee efforts to re-imagine and strengthen civic education across the K-16 continuum. Preparing young people to live in a complex society requires that civic education be treated not as a narrow subject area, but as a core component of the curriculum. An increase in civic participation and voting by young people and immigrants is vital to maintaining a diverse democracy.