Civic Engagement

What is Civic Engagement?

Civic engagement refers to the active participation of individuals in political, economic and social affairs in order to make a difference in their communities. Civic engagement can take many forms and be done through an individual, an organization or electoral involvement. By becoming an active member within your community, you are able to improve the quality of life for everyone in it.

Some examples of active civic engagement include:

  • Voting in local, state and national elections
  • Volunteering at a community center or food bank
  • Using your voice to support or oppose a social/political cause
  • Contacting your elected officials
  • Running for a public office
  • Supporting a political candidate’s campaign

If you are a Valencia College student, faculty, or staff member, you can learn more about Civic Engagement through this  Civic Engagement LibGuide.

Why get involved?

Active citizenry is an important aspect of a community that enables individuals to improve various social, economic and political issues. It allows community members to use their voices and strive to refine the quality of life within their community. Studies indicate that community-based and civic engagement in higher education have positive outcomes in six key areas:

  • increased personal and social responsibility
  • development of positive mindsets and dispositions
  • improved graduation and retention rates
  • learning gains
  • improved intellectual and practical skills
  • increased career-related skills (AACU, 2022)

How to get involved


Why get involved in civic engagement as a student?

Engaging in your community through civic activities is a great way to promote being an active citizen. As a college student, you have the unique opportunity to learn more about how to become engaged with your community through Valencia College. By becoming involved in your community, you will begin to develop a stronger sense of belonging, social responsibility and harness a deeper understanding of your role in society. Through different civic based clubs and organizations offered at the college, you can sharpen your skills as a socially responsible leader, develop your critical thinking skills, and become an effective problem solver. On top of all of this, you will be able to work alongside individuals within a wide community of cultures and backgrounds which will help encourage personal growth through fostering a sense of empathy and increased cultural awareness ( Chittum, J. R., Enke, K. A. E., & Finley, A. P. 2022).

In addition, most students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of civic literacy through the state-mandated Florida Civic Literacy Competency. The goal of this is to assist in creating civically engaged and educated adults that are able to make positive contributions to their communities (Florida Department of Education). This competency requires that a course and an exam be passed, and more information can be found below.

How to Get Involved as a Student

Clubs, Organizations, and Scholarships

One of the benefits of being a student at Valencia is having the chance to join a multitude of clubs and organizations. Some of these clubs are focused on civics and community engagement and enable you to form bonds with your peers and learn more about what it means to be a responsible citizen. Some of the clubs and organizations you are able to join include:

  • Model UN is an academic simulation of the United Nations that aims to educate participants about civics, current events, effective communication, globalization, and multilateral diplomacy.
  • The Student Government Association is the voice of the students, their views and concerns at Valencia College.
  • Valencia Volunteers provides opportunities to volunteer on and off campus. The opportunities as a volunteer are unlimited and the experience is life changing. Take a chance to learn, grow and have fun by giving back!
  • The Valencia Historical Society gives you the opportunity to discuss historical topics of interest and promote a diverse community while exploring topics and future career paths within the historical community.
  • Visit the Valencia College Events Calendar for activities and events occurring within the Valencia community.
  • The Bill Castellanos Civic Leadership Scholarship is a scholarship that recognizes you for your notable civic leadership skills.
Valencia Volunteers Event

Florida Civic Literacy Competency

In accordance with Florida state law, Florida students are expected to understand the basics of civic literacy and demonstrate civic competency by the time they graduate from a postsecondary institution. In order to demonstrate this competency, most degree-seeking students are required to take (1) either AMH 2020 United States History to 1877 or POS 2041 U.S. Government, and (2) the Florida Civic Literacy Exam (FCLE).

The FCLE is a state developed assessment that measures students’ knowledge on civic literacy and is proctored at Valencia Testing and Assessment Centers. The exam focuses on four key areas of civic literacy:

  • Principles of American Democracy: Understanding of the basic principles and practices of American democracy and how they are applied in our republican form of government
  • U.S. Constitution: Understanding of the United States Constitution and its application
  • Founding Documents: Knowledge of the founding documents and how they have shaped the nature and functions of our institutions of self-government
  • Landmark Supreme Court Cases: Understanding of landmark Supreme Court cases, landmark legislation, and landmark executive actions and their impact on law and society
Civic Engagement Adrienne Mathews Nisod

In order to see if you need to take the FCLE,  check your degree audit and schedule an appointment with your academic advisor to receive the most accurate information that's applicable to you. Additionally, you can also receive general information through Valencia’s Virtual Answer Center. For more information on taking the FCLE please refer to the Testing and Assessment website.

FCLE preparation resources are available to support you. Some of your options include: 


How to get involved in Civic Engagement as a faculty member

If you are a faculty member interested in starting or joining Civic Engagement efforts on behalf of Valencia College, you are encouraged to reach out to Engaged Learning to connect with existing endeavors and resources.

Faculty members that currently teach AMH 2020 U.S. History 1877 - Present or POS 2041 American Government are encouraged to include a syllabus statement regarding the Florida Civic Literacy Competency. As a faculty member, it is helpful for your students if you are knowledgeable about the FCLE as it is a graduation requirement that pertains to most students at the college. For more information regarding the Florida Civic Literacy Exam, please visit the Testing and Assessment website.