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Michigan State University

Citizen Participation

Covers political, social, environmental and economic activities aimed at building a better and more democratic and sustainable society


By far the most active arena for citizens is through voluntary civil society efforts. Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest believes there are close to 1,000,000 voluntary organizations around the planet working on causes they believe in. Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming is also available as a 2007 New York Times bestseller[1] by Paul Hawken.

Michael Edwards, in his book Small Change: Why Business Won't Save the World offers that it is civil society might.

Associations Unlimited. Contains information for approximately 460,000 international and U.S. national, regional, state, and local nonprofit membership organizations in all fields, including IRS data on U.S. 501(c) nonprofit organizations. For some 2,600 major U.S. national associations, provides full-text association materials such as brochures, pamphlets, and membership application forms.


Volunteering/Community Work

Some estimates that there is the equivalent economic activity involved in volunteering as there is in the paid economy. Finding volunteer opportunities that align with your interests and values is easier now with tools like the following. Faith based efforts abound in almost every arena and almost every location, many of which are not listed in the tools below.

Capital Area United Way Volunteer Center - database of local opportunities with local agencies.

MSU Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement - for MSU students only. Connects them with opportunities in our region

Service Learning and Civic Engagement guide - Background reading and resources


Support for the arts and culture of a community comes mainly from charitable contributions, with diminishing assistance from government. Besides volunteering for and donating to social and cultural organizations -social welfare, libraries, museums, music festivals, etc., citizens advocate for support for funding and policies that protect the artifacts, services and institutions for the common good. The following organizations work to protect thecommon wealth of our community.

Michigan League for Public Policy - fights to support programs that attend to the neediest amongst us

Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs -works to promote and support the vibrant community of creative expression

National Endowment for the Humanities -  promotes and funds arts across the nations in communities of all sizes through a grant process.