Why Study Civics? • Find out how government works and what processes it uses to make decisions that affect us all • Identify your personal beliefs and values about how we participate in society • Practice basic citizenship skills • Examine the challenges of participating in communities in which people often hold differing views. • Think critically about what active and responsible citizenship means to you.
The Challenges of Living in a Community • Ensuring the reliable transportation, health care, a police force, firefighters, and many other services are provided in the community • Protecting our rights and freedoms as citizens of a nation, for example, the right to speak openly and the right to choose our friends and associates. • The right to live in a peaceful world without epidemics of disease, famine or ecological disaster • Communities have established formal and structures to deal with more complex challenges.
These structures are called governments • They exist so that we can deal with big challenges that cannot be overcome by individuals or smaller groups. • Governments provide us with the formal processes we need to provide major services, to make decisions as a community and to establish and enforce laws. • Sometimes it can be difficult for a community to satisfy the different needs of all of its members. • Because a community is made up of many people, what may be best for you may not always be best for others of the community as a whole. Living in a community can sometimes lead to conflict.
Civil Society • Before formal governments existed, human helped and protected each other. • Today, we still help our fellow citizens, often by joining voluntary organizations. • Many organizations try to make a difference or to meet challenges. • They might be concerned with health, youth programs, social services, sports and recreation, arts and culture, religious faith, animal welfare or international aid. • These organizations are not part of government. They are started by members who find ways to raise the money they need to run their programs.
The members work to provide services and to explain their beliefs to the public, to the governments, or to others who might be able to make a difference • Together these organizations make up what is known as our civil society.
Decision Making • School boards should be allowed to decide what students wear to school? • Local governments should be allowed to make rules about curfews for teenagers? • Governments should censor music, movies and videos? • Corporations should be allowed to advertise in public schools in return for providing the school with money?