Online Civic Engagement

PAF 112 - Identity, Service, and American Democracy

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Have you ever read the news or overheard a conversation about politics and felt helpless? You are not alone! Many people ask questions like: Does my vote matter? How do federal policies affect me? How can I make a difference? American Democracy is defined by its people participating, voicing their opinion, and making a difference. In this course, you will learn about civic engagement and how people like you shape the world. You will also gain insight into how you can become an active and engaged member of your own community. You will interview public service leaders, investigate local issues, and form the what, why, and how of civic engagement, which you will use to create a civic action portfolio.

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Course prerequisites and requirements

To be successful in this course, we recommend English language fluency and computer literacy. We also encourage you to make sure your laptop or desktop computer meets the technical requirements.

Quick facts

Next start date:

Oct. 10, 2023

  • Credits: 3
  • Length: 8 weeks
  • Cost: $25 + $400

What you’ll learn

  • Examine the concepts of civic engagement, identity, political engagement, social engagement, democracy, government, social capital, federalism, voting processes, nonprofit organization, civil society, interest groups, mobilization, and lobbying
  • Explain why American democracy is unique and the contribution of social capital in American society
  • Examine cultural diversity in the US and contemporary concepts of multiculturalism, cultural relativism, and cultural subordination
  • Demonstrate an understanding of current and historical social and political movements based on culture, including race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual identity, and generational culture
  • Compare and contrast the types of political engagement and social engagement
  • Describe how the tensions in American society related to identity (i.e., gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, (dis)ability, employment type) have influenced political action
  • Explain the critical role that social service organizations play in American democracy
  • Analyze the role of culture and cultural elements in identity formation and associations with others of similar identity and the social contributions of these associations
  • Discuss how service work creates an identity and contributes to community building
  • Evaluate your identity based on the categories discussed in this course and demonstrate how it influences your pathway to civic engagement
  • Create an action plan of community service based on your identity using at least one of the six public service pathways
  • Based on concepts such as identity, civic engagement, political engagement, social engagement, social capital, and mobilization, analyze a public service organization

What to expect in class

Video lectures, readings, discussions, optional live meetings with the instructor, quizzes, ePortfolio, and final paper

Exams and grading




Quizzes (5)


This course appears on your transcript identically to how it appears on the transcript of an enrolled ASU student who has taken the course on one of ASU’s campuses.

This course satisfies 3 credit hours toward the Social-Behavioral (SB) and Cultural Diversity in the United States (C) General Studies requirement at Arizona State University. It is strongly encouraged that you consult with your institution of choice to determine how these credits will be applied to their degree requirements prior to transferring your credit.

Faculty and course staff




Senior Lecturer,

School of Public Affairs

Arizona State University

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Why take ASU Universal Learner Courses

  1. Credit you receive is from a regionally accredited university
  2. Your credit is highly transferable
  3. You only pay the $400 course cost if you pass

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