“We view our participation in this project as a key part of our mission to engage actively in Ohio’s communities, meet Ohioans’ educational needs, and work collaboratively with others to identify and address community problems,” she said.
The report looks at data of six areas of civic health: volunteerism, charitable giving, group participation, voting behavior, non-voting political action and informal social consequences. Thursday’s report is the sixth time Miami University Regionals has produced the assessment of Ohioans’ civic health.
“Most people believe civic engagement starts and stops with the election,” said Theresa Ervin Conover, the other co-author of the report. “But there are other layers they can participate in their communities and engage civically above and beyond the election.”
The problem is, Forren and Conover said, they don’t.
Only 2.5 million of Ohio’s estimated 11.6 million residents — which is equal to about 1 out of 5 — reported to have volunteered. And nearly two-thirds of Ohioans play no direct role in community-based organizations, which is a drop off from just a couple years ago.
“The level of civic engagement in the state is important because to have a healthy democracy to have a democratic system where people can hold their government accountable you need people involved, you need people engaged,” said Forren.
Thursday presentation will incorporate breakout sessions with representatives from colleges and universities from around Ohio. And the co-authors said this is not a one-day or one-shot presentation. It needs to be a long-term goal to develop civic skill-building.
“If young adults are not engaged in their communities, they’re definitely not developing the habit of engagement,” said Forren.
And if the country’s largest generation, the Millennial generation which is 18 to 32 years old, are not involved, “that does not bode well for the future,” Forren said.
“The civic engagement mission in colleges in Ohio goes beyond the classroom,” he said. “As institutions, we have a role to play in strengthening communities.”