Carl Bertelsmann Prize 2007 'Civic Engagement as an Educational Goal'
The 2007 Carl Bertelsmann Prize goes to the London-based Citizenship Foundation. The British organization is being honored with the 100,000 Euro prize for its exemplary program designed to anchor civic engagement within the educational experience. In addition, the TOP SE (Topic-Oriented Project for Social Engagement) curriculum from the German state of Baden-Württemberg is being recognized with a special 50,000 Euro award. In the course of its international search efforts, the prize committee identified a number of policy initiatives and strategies which are geared toward increasing civic engagement among children and adolescents and which also provide opportunities for them to get involved in their communities. In addition to the prize-winners, two programs from the United States were also shortlisted for the this year's award.
Thriving Youth, Flourishing Civil Society
How can we give young people the skills needed to thrive, to construct productive lives for themselves, and to contribute to democratic society through gainful employment and successful entrepreneurial activities in a flat world? How can we assure their active and positive citizenship, their civic engagement and their valued civic contributions? The article by Richard Lerner addresses these questions, and discusses how positive and healthy child and adolescent development occurs, how such development is, or may be, linked to active citizenship that contributes to civil society, and what some non-governmental organizations have done in an effort to provide such experiences for youth and, in the process, to strengthen communities.
The Giraffe Heroes Project discovers, rewards and creates real role models for civic engagement. The "giraffes" are unknown heroes who have attained their magnitude by virtue of their outstanding personal involvement. For children and adolescents they serve as role models to measure themselves against. Teaching concepts and materials geared specifically to the curriculum help children and adolescents to identify problems in their immediate environments and find solutions to them.
A new, challenging version of the program is provided for every age. In this way the youngsters are guided all the way from the nursery stage to their last school year. The program has been implemented at US schools since 1991. It is now firmly anchored in the curriculum for "character building" and in service learning projects.
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The Citizenship Foundation is dedicated to helping children and adolescents take a proactive role in society. For more than 20 years it has been part of the vanguard in terms of political education in the UK.
Civic Engagement as an Educational Goalmore