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Civic Engagement and Voting: What is Civic Engagement?

This guide shares resources and strategies for learning about socio political issues in order to vote or otherwise participate in civic discourse. It also details local resources for getting involved as well at UNLV and local events.

What is Civic Enagagement?

Civic Engagement means making a difference in our communities and developing a combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation needed to enact change. It includes formal and informal activities such as volunteering, voting, lobbying for a politician, community gardening, completing the census, coaching a community sports team, writing to an elected official, researching ballot initiatives, and more.

This Civic Engagement and Voting guide provides resources and information about a variety of issues from voting, researching issues and candidates, how elections work, as well as a variety of resources such as books, streaming videos, and information about upcoming events.

How to Use this Guide

This guide offers guidance and resources for getting civically engaged at the local, regional, and national levels in the United States. Each section or page offers information, resources, and opportunities for deeper learning to support your own civic engagement.

  • What is Civic Engagement? - This page (the one you're currently browsing!) explains what civic engagement is and why it's important, and also provides a brief overview on this overall guide.
  • About Voting - This page presents resources and information relevant to the history of voting in the U.S., the importance of voting, and voting for the first time.
  • Elections - This section contains pages for all things elections! The information and resources covered here include the various types of elections like Local and State elections, Congressional elections, and Presidential elections and when they are all held.
  • Navigating Political Influence - This page includes information on media bias, lobbying, and public policy advocacy organizations.
  • Voting Rights - This section offers resources on how to register to vote, how to conduct research prior to voting, and how to react to various stages of the process.  
  • Beyond the Vote - Civic engagement is more than voting and politics. This page walks through various types of civic engagement...
  • Get Involved - This page offers ideas for getting involved at UNLV and in your community.
  • Connect - This page lists the contact information for subject experts in and outside of the library who are open to chat further about civic engagement.

Questions? Ask me!

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Chelsea Heinbach
University Libraries - Lied Library

Why is Civic Engagement Important?

Civic engagement is the foundation of democracy. By being civically engaged, the power is given back to the people to have their say in the world around them.

From electing politicians that create policies that impact your life, to being a well-informed active citizen, there are many reasons why civic engagement is important.

Civic engagement is a great way to make an impact on your community and use your privilege to help those around you. From animal rights and education to social justice and house equity, find something you are passionate about and get engaged with your community!

Image source: "Civic Engagement.", Accessed December 16, 2019.

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Photograph: Please I'd Like to Grow: 60 Years of Student Activism — 2016 -- UNLV Libraries Exhibits and Events.


This guide was created by Maggie Bukowski, Outreach and Instruction Specialist with the assistance of Susie Skarl, Urban Affairs Librarian under the guidance of Chelsea Heinbach, Teaching and Learning Librarian. It has since been updated by Rebekah D' Amato, a Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coach, and Carrieann Cahall, Outreach and Instruction Specialist, under the guidance of Chelsea Heinbach.

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