The Path Not Taken So Far

Author

Levine, Peter

Genre

Article/Essay

Overview

In his 2010 article, “The Path Not Taken So Far,” Levine laments the fact that while much of Obama's election campaign was based on the premise of “reclaiming the meaning of citizenship” and “restoring our sense of common purpose,” neither he, nor any other politician, has made great strides to implement concrete ideas for civic empowerment. Levine argues that tripling the size of AmeriCorps and focusing on service programs does not necessarily build civic skills, and believes that civic empowerment needs to be integrated into issues such as healthcare and climate change rather than standing separately from the most pressing issues today. Levine's article gives us the opportunity to imagine a future where civic empowerment is a priority and to discuss the challenges that our society faces when it is not, reflecting on the role that service plays in creating a successful future.

Full Text*

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Type

Reading

Themes

Diversity and DifferenceOrganizing and ActivismServing and VolunteeringSocial and Political Change

Big Questions

How do we learn to have dialogue across difference? What does it look like?What are the best ways to organize people and spur them to action?Do acts of service lead to social change?What kind of change am I making? What kind of change does the world need?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What does Levine mean by “active citizenship”? Is this your definition as well?
  2. Why do you think civic engagement as a priority goes largely unreported by the press?
  3. What do you think Levine means when he talks about reclaiming “the meaning of citizenship”? Is service an essential part of this meaning?
  4. Levine cites discussions and dialogues as key to social change. Why does he think these are so important? Can you relate?
  5. What do you think of Levine's claim that “service does not necessarily build civic skills or address fundamental problems”?
  6. What do you think could be done to make service seem more “edgy”? Is this possible?
  7. What does it mean for “civic engagement to run deep”?
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