Biology Lab

EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship


If citizenship gives us rights, can it also make demands of us? What would it mean to acquiesce to these demands, if so, and what to refuse them? Such questions about the ethics and requirements of engaged citizenship were central to the founding of the University of Virginia and increasingly serve as a rallying cry for the importance of the liberal arts tradition. But what is engaged citizenship and what does it require of us? In this class, we will consider varying frameworks for the ethics of engaged citizenship—education, self-reflection, presence (or showing up)—to struggle with the relationship of the self to society within the University community and beyond. Why do we increasingly know more about certain aspects of our food supply and so little about others? What are the implications of this visibility and invisibility for our behavior towards each other? Does citizenship require us to confront those who we perceive as challenging our values, and, if so, can that ever be anything other than a coercive and oppressive act? Is citizenship a communal agreement or an individual one? Does it bind us together or separate us? When is violence justified, if ever? Under what circumstances should we bend or discard our citizenly duty? Through class excursions, readings, journaling activities, viewings, and course presentations we will experiment with the ethical implications of the various positions we take—including inaction—when we respond to the world around and inside of us.