Book by Karla Gottlieb and Gail Robinson
Review by Robert P. Birken
Advising First-Division of Undergraduate Studies
Florida State University

While geared toward community college classroom settings, the guidance offered in this book has implications for anyone working with young adults. It serves as a strong and clear reminder of the impressionable minds that define college-aged students. For those who work with these maturing adolescents, this book reinforces the need to model civic responsibility, infuse social conscientiousness in our messaging, and emphasize the important contributions young adults can make to society.

The integration of historical perspectives on civic responsibility and the current climate of volunteerism with today’s youth frame the recommended discussion and activities for classroom use. However, applications of these activities go beyond the traditional classroom setting. Be it student orientation, college acclimation courses, or one-on-one advising sessions, the discussion items can be useful for working with any and all students. Offering students tips on self-reflection would be meaningful for the student who has not yet selected a clear career path. Likewise, introducing students to potential civic groups might be helpful for the student who appears isolated or is having difficulty adjusting to college life.  In addition to the practice of civic responsibility, volunteering provides opportunities for building relationships, exploring career options, and creates a sense of belonging to a larger community.

Self-awareness and societal knowledge are described as key components of instilling civic responsibility in the developing adolescent / young adult.  The implications for advisors are meaningful opportunities to help students recognize their intuition and knowledge about who they are and what their contributions might be in life. When working with students advisors can reinforce self-awareness by commenting positively on a student’s attempts to make decisions. Where possible, advisors should affirm student behaviors, choices, and aptitudes for education and experience. Also, to the extent possible, advisors should make students aware of campus activities, groups, and other social events that help build and foster a sense of community.

Service learning and civic responsibility are the hallmark themes for this brief, yet meaningful curriculum supplement. This book issues the important reminder that the relationships we build with students are central to our ability to serve students. We influence young adults in our daily work. With that understanding comes a responsibility to serve as positive influences and do more for our students than what our job descriptions entail. An advisor’s work is critical to expanding student minds, introducing options and encouraging perseverance. All working advisors know the multitude of variation that exists with the student population. However, for every difference, there are core commonalities. All students want to be reassured. All students want to be accepted. All students want to know what they are meant to do in life, and for the few who do, all still want affirmation of their decisions and path to get them there. Rare is the student who deviates from these characteristics.

The guidance offered in A Practical Guide for Integrating Civic Responsibility into the Curriculum serves as a strong reminder that relationships, community, and the relation between are important to the development of responsible adults who will be successful in academics and in life. At its very essence, the book is about forming positive relationships while participating and respecting the world around us. This highly recommended book provides useful activities that advisors can share and promote in the college community.

A Practical Guide for Integrating Civic Responsibility into the Curriculum. (2002). Book by Karla Gottlieb and Gail Robinson (Eds). Review by Robert P. Birken. Washington DC: Community College Press, 85 pp., $25.00, (paperback), ISBN # 0-877117-348-4
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