Civic Thinking and Public Policy Analysis: A Comparative Approach to Political Decision-Making


  • Jason Fitzgerald Monmouth University


action civics, civics education, community deliberation, public policy analysis, social studies


In an effort to increase students’ preparation for and participation in civic life, teachers and schools across the United States have incorporated action civics programs into their social studies courses. These programs resemble many of the key characteristics of the public policy analysis process. However, there is little evidence suggesting that civic leaders use this process when engaging a civic issue. This study explores the processes that civic leaders in one community use when thinking aloud about two hypothetical civic action scenarios, comparing their processes with the public policy analysis process. Qualitative analysis demonstrates that civic leaders engage in the public policy analysis process but also include the crucial initial step of seeking community deliberation. This initial step makes the whole process community-based, especially in the Research, Planning, and Action phases. These findings indicate that action civics programs should consider incorporating more community awareness and involvement into the early parts of their curricula, enabling youth to work with community members rather than isolating action civics work to K-12 classrooms.