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Citizenship and leadership

Developing leadership skills involves building civic and social responsibilities. Service learning and other youth program activities can make youth into leaders.

Comments on this page? Curator: Jacquie Lonning, citizenship & leadership program director

Youth Development Insight

Our faculty blog about research, issues and trends in the field. Join the conversation!

  • 2/17

    For LGBT youth, safe spaces can be hard to find

  • Joseph Rand

    About two years ago, students at Becker High School in rural Minnesota created a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). These students wanted a space where they could be themselves, connect and feel safe in a town where they often feel they don't fit in and can't express their true identities. For adolescents, access to safe spaces is a crucial part of development and exploring self-identity. For youth programs, this is a fundamental concern.

    While physical safety is the foundation of the YPQA pyramid from the Center for Youth Program Quality, emotional safety is also of crucial importance. Only when youth feel emotionally and physically safe are they able to present themselves in an authentic way and engage in positive development. Without that authenticity, true development cannot take place.

    Read more.


  • 12/16

    Make meetings meaningful

  • Brian McNeill

    Meetings can be important and useful, or they can be a waste of time. How many of us have sat in a meeting and thought, "Is this meeting ever going to start?" or worse, "Is this meeting ever going to end?" The typical American professional attends more than 60 meetings per month, and about half of that time is wasted.

    Read more.

See all citizenship and leadership blog posts

Reports & journal articles

Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century

National research council
An important set of key skills which include problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management - often referred to as "21st century skills" increase deeper learning, college and career readiness, student-centered learning, and higher order thinking. 2012.

Citizenship education in England 2001-2010: young people's practices and prospects for the future: the eighth and final report from the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study

Department for Education (UK)
This landmark report looks to identify, measure and assess the short-term and long-term effects of citizenship education in schools on students over time. 2010.

Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning

Kyla Wahlstrom, Karen Seashore Louis, Kenneth Leithwood, Stephen E. Anderson
The framework for this study represents the assumptions about aspects of the larger school system, including leadership at several levels, which interact to influence student learning. (PDF) 2010.

Once we know it, we can grow it
Summary version

Produced by Extension: Joyce Walker, Cecilia Gran, Deborah Moore
A white paper on how quality matters in multiple dimensions of nonformal learning in the nonschool hours. (PDF) 2009.

Minnesota 4-H Youth Development Program Outcomes: Leadership and Civic Engagement

Produced by Extension: Heidi Haugen and Becky Harrington
Annotated bibliography on leadership and civic engagement developed to inform program outcomes for Minnesota 4-H Youth Development. (PDF) 2008.

Core Principles for Engaging Young People in Community Change

Forum for Youth Investment
Includes the Continuum of Youth Engagement and Eight Principles of engaging youth in community change. (PDF) 2007.

Pushing the Envelope on Youth Civic Engagement: A developmental and liberation psychology perspective

Roderick J. Watts and Constance Flanagan
The authors present a typology of civic engagement that includes 1) community service; 2) work within organizations; and 3) sociopolitical activism aimed at changing organizations and society. (PDF) 2007.

Toward an Understanding of Youth in Community Governance: Policy priorities and research directions

Shepherd Zeldin, Linda Camino, and Matthew Calvert
Reviews the context, rationale and research related to youth in decision-making positions and provides recommendations for changes in adult expectations and support. (PDF) 2007.

Beyond Access and Supply: Youth-led strategies to captivate young people's interest in and demand for youth programs and communities

Produced by Extension: Rebecca N. Saito
Working on supply and access are necessary but not sufficient for the task of increasing young people's engagement in positive youth programs, activities, and informal opportunities. Youth are the marketing experts in this endeavor to increase participation in youth programs particularly by those who typically do not participate. (PDF) 2006.

Building Environmental Youth Leadership

Produced by Extension: Compiled by Nathan J. Meyer and Rebecca L. Meyer
A complete, downloadable curriculum for high school service learning. This group of environmental activities are around water conservation. 2004.

Putting Knowledge to Work

Nicole Yohalem
An article that explores what can be done to strengthen the bridges between research, evaluation, and practice. (PDF) 2002.

Youth Civic Engagement in the 21st Century

James Youniss, Susan Bales, Verona Christmas-Best, Marcelo Diversi, Milbrey McLaughlin, and Rainer Silbereisen
The authors outline social and political dynamics of the 21st century that necessitate a redefinition of civic competence, asserting that youth must be prepared to collaborate with adults in new ways to identify and address social and political issues within ever-changing realities. 2001.

Our past presentations

10 Essential Elements of Cross-age Teaching

Produced by Extension: Amber Shanahan
For more than 30 years, Youth Teaching Youth has been a prime example of a cross-age teaching program. In cross-age teaching, teens are not just assisting an adult teacher or informally sharing experiences,but facilitating an entire learning experience by teaching curriculum and fully managing a group of younger peers. Cross-age teaching can also enhance social and emotional learning for both teacher and learner. Youth workers often ask those of us on the 4-H YTY team how they might start a cross-age teaching program of their own. Chances are, your program is already infusing some components, but there are 10 essential elements you need to define in order to do this well. 2016. Listen to the podcast.

Utilizing a Flipped Classroom to Train Teen Teachers

Produced by Extension: Amber Shanahan and Emily Fulton-Fischer
The 4-H Youth Teaching Youth program trains teen teachers in high school to deliver curricula to students in elementary and middle schools on topics including character building and healthy living. The role of a teen teacher in this cross-age program requires classroom management skills, curriculum insight, and a basic understanding of public speaking. However, training time is often limited due to the competitive nature of a teen’s schedule. This webinar will explore a pilot model being used to accommodate the need for more flexibility and versatility for training teen teachers. A flipped classroom approach allows youth to watch self-study modules (using their phone, tablet, or computer) prior to attending in-person training. Then, the in-person training provides a space for deeper practice, reflection, application, and conversation. Participants will gain an understanding of this training approach and gain ideas of how it can translate to other youth work settings where training is necessary, but time is limited. 2016. View the web recording.

Eyes on the future...young people as contributors to society

Produced by Extension: Judith Conway and Nicole Pokorney
This webinar discussed service-learning as a program strategy to focus on youth workers understanding and applying a youth-adult partnership approach in non-formal learning environments. Presenters shared research, tools, and resources to help youth practitioners better understand their role. 2013. View the web recording.

Reweave the World: Investing in Tomorrow's Leadership

Dr. Margaret Wheatley
Noted author and international figure in leadership, Dr. Margaret Wheatley speaks about what it takes to be a leader in the 21st century and challenges us to rethink the ways Minnesota seeks to reach, connect and engage youth. 2007. Read more.

Youth Engagement, Social Trust and the Future of Democracy

Constance Flanagan
90-minute video presentation focusing on the role of youth engagement in nurturing social trust in and in fostering the future of democracy. 2008. Read more.

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