Civic Engagement AcademyFounded at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Civic Engagement Academy  (CEA) is an initiative created to enhance student learning, role participation, and broaden student networking opportunities across the state in actively addressing the dynamics of systemic disparity, privilege, and isms through an equity lens. Rooted in a social justice framework, we posit that in order for students to effectively create sustainable change, they must first understand their agency in a society is the product of historically rooted, institutionally sanctioned stratification along socially constructed group lines that include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability (among others). In providing this foundational understanding, we are able to guide participants into (a) fostering a culture of critical self-reflection in relation to their socialization into this matrix of unequal relationships and its implications, (b) give them the tools and resources to analyze the various mechanisms of oppression, and (c) empower them to create positive sustainable change in challenging these constructs.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Articulate a deeper practice of critical and reflective thinking skills and abilities as it relates to their own agency within the social justice framework. (Cognitive Complexity)
  2. Apply ethical reasoning in decision-making toward raising awareness and addressing societal inequities. (Intrapersonal Development and Cognitive Complexity)
  3. Comprehend the role and importance of engagement, leadership, and collaboration in identity, development, and overall success. (Interpersonal Competence)
  4. Identify the concepts of anti-racism, leadership, co-constructional learning, cross-cultural communication, cultural humility, intellectual humility, as a set of skills and as a process to effect positive change. (Interpersonal Competence and Practical Competence)
  5. Examine their own self-awareness as integral to the student leadership and civic engagement experience. (Intrapersonal Development)
  6. Demonstrate a broader commitment to social justice. (Humanitarianism & Civic Engagement)


Program Components

  • Agents for Change Social Justice Training Retreat

    The Agents for Change Social Justice Training Retreat is a four consecutive Saturday intensive skill building experience for activists of all levels. It will provide an opportunity to: (1) Learn from educators and activists and connect with dynamic student leaders at the forefront of social justice movements: (2) Engage in activities and build skills to become a confident and effective activist and organizer; and (3) Participate in follow-up monthly sessions to stay connected with cohort members and raise awareness of contemporary issues facing society and ways to get involved.

  • Social Justice Workshops

    The new monthly online forums will be held on the first and third Tuesday of every month starting in October until end of the calendar school year. The goal is to invite thought leaders, community representatives and interdisciplinary creatives to explore and unpack social justice, restorative justice, and equity. Each discussion will be used to highlight a contemporary issue, discuss its implications on society, facilitate dialogue between the speaker and audience, and offer up resources for next steps. Some of the topics covered will include: environmental racism, police reform, prison industrial complex, voter suppression, redlining, access to healthcare, economic disparities, free speech and hate speech, and et cetera. The initiative will serve as an extension of the Cultural Lens Speaker & Film Series.

    Proposed 2020-2021 Calendar

    October 2020: Race and Racism Part 1| National
    October 6th - Historical view on the invention of racism and indigenous communities
    October 20th - Religious Suppression and Anti-Semitism

    November 2020: Race and Racism Part 2| International
    November 3rd - Immigration and Xenophobia
    November 17th - From slavery to Black Lives Matter

    December 2020: Criminal Justice and Mass Incarceration
    December 1st - Police Brutality, Community Policing, and Reform
    December 15th - Prison Industrial Complex and Mass Incarceration

    January 2021: Gender and Sexuality
    January 5th - Women’s Movement
    January 19th - LGBTQ social movements

    February 2021: Wealth, Class, and Resource Distribution
    February 2nd - Housing, Redlining, and Gentrification
    February 16th - Poverty

    March 2021: Disability and Access
    March 2nd - History and overview of ableism

    April 2021: Healthcare
    April 6th - Invisible Disabilities
    April 13th - Healthcare Access and Equity

  • Capstone Project

    Throughout the year, students will be encouraged to pursue independent research on a social justice topic of their choice to (1) engage with the scholarly debates in the relevant disciplines through educational via student programming discussion forum; (2) produce and submit a substantial paper or ORCA conference workshop presentation that reflects a deep understanding of the topic; or (3) take part in a community based initiative providing a minimum of 50 service hours via UAB’s Blazer Pulse platform. Students are encouraged to submit their papers or conference presentations elsewhere as well.

    All capstone projects will be due April 30, 2021.

  • Civic Engagement Academy Common Read

    The main goal for the CEA Common Read is simple – to have all incoming students collectively share in a single learning experience while gaining an appreciation for diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and individual stories that not only impacts how they work together as classmates, but how they view the world as emerging leaders. Each year, a book will be selected for students to read and discuss through ongoing small and large group discussions.

  • Organizing Radical Collegiate Activism Conference

    Organized Radical Collegiate Activism (ORCA) Conference is a student-led conference which aims to address the challenges and advantages of doing social justice advocacy work on (and through) Alabama campuses. Through this conference, students will have an opportunity to share and present with their peers across the state of Alabama on advocacy work that students have done on different campuses to tackle social justice issues addressing one or more of the conference themes: Challenges, advantages, issues, and/or organizing of student activism, advocacy, or how to incorporate social justice into campus work on Alabama campuses to relay that social justice has no boundaries. Students will share their experiences and work through session presentations (workshops, panels, etc.) in an attempt to identify and translate best practices throughout their own campus and community.


For more information about the Civic Engagement Academy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..