Youth Engagement in Civics and History

Since the 1970s, there has been an increasing push for youth participation in politics. With the outbreak of the Vietnam War and the subsequent protests, youth became a key voice in the United States. While this sentiment was once contained largely on college campuses, the internet has allowed younger and younger people to research and become civically engaged.

But why should youth care about political engagement? Ultimately, it’s because America is founded on making voices heard. Youth are an important part of the tapestry that make up our country, and their concerns must be heard. Additionally, Gen Z is beginning to reach the age where many of its members can vote, and those who cannot are able to engage with the government online. It’s this civic engagement, on the part of all citizens, that allows our country to function, and it is our duty to learn how to influence and respond to policy.

It is really important for youth to be into civics. Many of our country’s laws are based off of what older generations wanted for our country and many of our values are different. Personally, I enjoy politics because I like to see what changes could be made and other people’s ideas on how to make this country better.

Student from New Jersey

Throughout high school, I have been involved in a wide variety of history and civics classes. Each new course still excites me as they provide a unique and nuanced perspective on human behavior, ethics, and the development of nations. Civics and history are relevant to every aspect of human life, and by examining human behavior both throughout history and today we can find ways to better our environment.

I like history because it helps me better understand others and their cultural influences as well as relationships within groups in general. I like politics/civics because unlike most other topics, I think they directly relate to groups of people and their general well-being.

-Student from New Jersey

Each lesson we learn from the past can have a vital impact on our future. We can learn from both the successes and failures of our past, but only if we put in the effort to find out what they were and why they led to a given outcome. In this way, it is vital for everyone (but especially those of the younger generation who are still in school) to study history and civics. It is also important we be ready to discuss and build on this knowledge.

What excites me about history, civics, or even politics is the opportunity to learn from historical events whether negative or positive and implement those lessons into our era. In doing so we can discuss with each other about any social aspect we want to address and come to conclusions on how to better the world. Hopefully with this mentality we can begin to drastically impact our society, environment, and everyone in it in a positive way.

-Student from New York

One of the most amazing things about Gen Z is the willingness to be open minded. This may come from the varied opinions accessible online, or the increased push for understanding and empathy in the modern era, but from my experience those of the younger generation tend to be open to nuanced and important discussions. These discussions are so important in civic engagement and cooperation, and this openness is another American ideal. The principles of democracy work best when we are all willing to hear each other’s voices and respond.

For me, the most interesting and exciting part about politics is seeing the difference in opinion that people have. It’s really refreshing to meet other teens my age who have the same interests that I do and are open to the difference of values, morals, and beliefs. I used to not like history all that much but one of my now favorite teachers really made it interesting by teaching us about the why in people’s actions and the psychology behind it.

-Student from California

As the rising generation gets older and becomes increasingly responsible for the state of the government and the people in the country, it is important we are educated and willing to discuss. It is also important that we are ready to step into an active role and fulfill our civic duty. There is immense power behind our words, so long as are willing to express them.

  • Founder of Gen Z The Gap. Enjoys discussing politics, especially from a historical or economic standpoint. She's spent the last few years taking every civics course she can fit into her schedule.


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