Civic Courage Journaling Project

Civic Courage Journaling Project participants smile in a virtual meeting.

The Civic Courage Journaling Project creates opportunities for individual reflection and group conversations about personal experiences that have important, often hidden civic dimensions. Civic Courage, identified by the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Theory of Change as one of the capacities necessary for active and engaged citizenship, encompasses the ability to take risks, work through tension, be patient in the face of challenges, stay open and engaged, take responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of one’s actions, face changes bravely, and act in accordance with one’s core values and beliefs.

Almost 100 UMBC student, faculty, staff, and alumni are journal bearers. They respond to prompts from the Center for Democracy and Civic Life by creating entries in their journals. Journal bearers share their reflections during conversations at monthly gatherings. Center staff members email the prompt to journal bearers and also post it on the Center’s myUMBC page a few days before the gathering.

Past Civic Courage Journaling Project prompts include:

  • What is something that people who do not know you well falsely believe or assume about you?
  • This time next year, what story would you like to be able to tell about your experience of the year ahead?
  • What roles do you play where you feel like you can make contributions to racial justice? Why? What roles do you play where you have a hard time envisioning contributions to racial justice? Why?
  • What has been the most helpful (and consequential) thing anyone has ever done for you without intending to help you at all?
  • From your perspective, what is the state of our Union? [a prompt shared around the time of the president of the United States’ annual State of the Union address]
  • Sometimes it’s hard to make space for conversations about the most important things — our fears, our vulnerabilities, our deep hopes — with people we’re around every day. What do you wish you had more opportunities to share and talk about with people at UMBC?

If you’d like to be involved with the Civic Courage Journaling Project, send us an email: The Center for Democracy and Civic Life will provide you with a journal.