» Civic Engagement Certificate

The Civic Engagement Certificate program prepares undergraduate students to be active and informed members of society. Through the program, students develop a strong civic network, work in meaningful ways with local communities and efforts to address public problems, and further their knowledge, skills, values, and motivations to be effective and responsible participants in civic life. Students who complete the civic engagement certificate

  • articulate a civic ethos integrated into everyday thoughts, interactions, and commitments
  • articulate public uses of their Chapman education
  • demonstrate knowledge of multiple strategies for civic action (e.g. service, advocacy, policy-change)
  • demonstrate understanding of the root causes of and public decisions about public issues
  • demonstrate skills for democratic engagement (e.g. deliberation, community organizing, lobbying)
  • develop a plan for, implement, and reflect upon civic action

Applications for the 2018-2019 cohort will open in Spring 2018. 

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Participant Bios

Daniel Espiritu headshot

Daniel Espiritu, Class of 2020 - I grew up in Orange, California.  One interesting thing about me is that I enjoy Star Wars a little too much.  I am participating in the Civic Engagement Certificate program because I am passionate about public service and civic engagement.  I feel that this program will allow me to develop my leadership skills and be an effective actor in the battle for social change. To me, civic engagement means working with others in order to promote the well-being of humanity.  Although I am passionate about several issues, one thing that always comes to mind is justice and alleviation for those in poverty.

Michaela Perry headshot

Michaela Perry, Class of 2019 - I was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and have been a member of the Boy Scouts of America, through a program called Venturing, for almost five years now.  By completing the Civic Engagement Certificate program, I hope to further my passion and skills for standing up for what I believe in and helping out in any community that I am able to be of service to.  Personally, I am very passionate about creating equity among individuals and I believe I have a responsibility to use my leadership experience to foster that.


certificate structure and timeline

1. Civic Engagement Seminar (Year One, Fall)

  • The civic engagement seminar involves discussions, excursions, and workshops that emphasize the development of students’ knowledge, skills, and motivations for being active and informed members of society. Topics will include: frameworks of citizenship, pathways for public service, civic professionalism, and civic values development.

2. Civic Immersion (Year One, Spring - Year Two, Fall)

  • Civic engagement (120 hours)
    • The civic engagement experience focuses participants’ experience on a public problem that is
      important to them, engaging them in existing efforts to better understand local manifestations of
      and approaches to addressing public problems. This requirement may be completed for credit via
      an internship with a faculty advisor.
    • Participants may work with no more than two public service organizations or community groups.
  • Civic Courses (3 courses)
    • Civic Issues – Participants must identify and complete one course that focuses on an economic,
      environmental, or social issue affecting a local, national, or international community.
    • Democratic Engagement – Participants must identify and complete one course that focuses on
      problems and/or processes of democracy at the local, national, or international level.
    • Leadership – Participants must identify and complete one course that focuses on leadership theory
      and/or practice.

3. Civic Engagement Project (Year Two, Spring)

  • The civic engagement project can be either community-based research or another kind of community-based endeavor and should build upon the student’s civic immersion experience. May be completed for credit as a research project with a faculty advisor. Students will be eligible for $500 in funding to support the implementation of their project.

4. Civic Portfolio (Year One, Fall – Year Two, Spring)

  • Throughout the duration of the program, participants develop a civic portfolio that demonstrates reflection in and on their experiences within the certificate program.

5. Civic Mentoring (Year One, Spring – Year Two, Spring)

  • When possible, students will be paired with an alumni/faculty/staff mentor as they begin their civic immersion experience to support their learning about and motivations for civic engagement.

6. Cohort Meetings (Year One, Spring – Year Two, Spring)

  • Participants meet monthly throughout the duration of their involvement to connect with, reflect with, and support one another while meeting and learning from faculty, staff, and community leaders.


Is this an academic minor?

No, the certificate program is co-curricular in nature. While elements of the program require completion of coursework and can be completed in tandem with for-credit experiences, the program is not housed within an academic department.

Is the Civic Seminar like a for-credit class?

The seminar will involve weekly meetings with other students in the program, but will not grant credit upon completion. An emphasis will be placed on ongoing civic reflection, but there will be no formal homework or assignments required.

Will this program focus on politics?

While avenues for and the value of political engagement will be explored, the program is intended to engage students in developing their knowledge about, skills in, and motivations for whatever pathway for civic engagement (e.g. community organizing, direct community service, political engagement, social entrepreneurship) is most meaningful to them.

What is the cost to participate in the program?

There are no required expenses associated with participation in the program. Students admitted into the program will be eligible for up to $500 to support the implementation of their civic capstone project.

What kind of issue(s) should I focus on for the civic immersion requirement?

Students in the program are encouraged to focus their energy on a public issue that is important to them. Upon completion of the immersion requirements, students should have course- and community-based experiences that inform the design and intended outcomes of their civic capstone project.

Can my friends and I work on a project together?

Yes, students accepted into the program can work collaboratively on a civic capstone project.

Can my civic capstone project focus on a need in my hometown and not in Orange County?

Yes, program participants can focus their civic capstone project on a need affecting a local, national, or global community.


Justin Koppelman, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Student Engagement