The Past, Present, and Religious Studies Future of Civic Engagement in American Higher Education

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Sara Ronis
Travis Proctor


We argue that Civic Engagement is fundamental to the stated work of the university, the humanities, and the project of religious studies. We trace the historical connections between Civic Engagement and higher education in the American context to the present, highlighting a consistency of focus on Civic Engagement across diverse university contexts even as educational priorities and instantiations shift. We then explore the particular role of Civic Engagement in Religious Studies pedagogy. We contend that being explicit about integrating Civic Engagement in the religion classroom enhances our students’ ability to understand complex concepts in late antique religion and underscores for them how relevant the study of late ancient religion is to students’ lives today. We offer three ways that instructors in Religious Studies can incorporate Civic Engagement into their classes: cultivating naming practices, focusing pedagogical exercises on honing students’ Civic Engagement skills, and, where practicable, engaging in community-based learning.

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Author Biographies

Sara Ronis, St. Mary's University

Sara Ronis is Assistant Professor of Theology at St. Mary’s University, in San Antonio, Texas.

Travis Proctor, Wittenberg University

Travis Proctor is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.