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Office of Leadership, Service and Career

Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement

The Pathways describe a range of possibilities by which we can make a contribution to the common good. These pathways intersect and overlap, demonstrating the interdependent nature inherent in working toward the common good. There is no single path and people move in and out of these pathways over time.

The UC Merced Community Engagement Center hopes to guide any interested students working on community service projects to incorporates these pathways. Please see below for more information.


  1. Working to address the immediate needs of individuals or a community, often involving contact with the people or places being served.

    • Work with food banks to provide community programming and nutrition education.
    • Volunteer at a local food distribution.
    • Participate in a service year program (e.g., AmeriCorps, City Year, etc.) addressing inequity in access to community resources and funding.
    • Volunteering remotely

  2. Donating or using private funds or charitable contributions from individuals or institutions to contribute to the public good.

    • Donate to local domestic violence shelters.
    • Donate to your local mutual aid fund.
    • Commit to donate a percentage of your salary to youth mentoring organizations.
    • Donate your extra produce to Merced’s People’s Fridge.

  3. Involving, educating, and mobilizing individual or collective action to influence or persuade others.

    • Collaborate on a campaign event (knocking on doors, phone calls, tabling, etc.) to raise awareness about an issue you are passionate about.
    • Join a coalition to promote community activism.
    • Organize your peers through social media to promote a local community political campaign.
    • Create a petition for an issue you care about and work to get others to sign it.

  4. Connecting coursework and academic research to community-identified concerns to enrich knowledge and inform action on social issues.

    • Partner with local agencies to survey or interview residents on the effects of recent local legislation that has passed.
    • Enroll in a program that combines coursework with field experience in community organizing around an issue you feel passionate about.
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of a program in your community that was created to address a local need.

  5. Participating in political processes, policymaking, and public governance.

    • Attend or organize a political debate, forum, or town hall to discuss issues affecting your local community.
    • Visit with your elected representative to discuss building community centers and spaces.
    • Draft legislation related to a personal cause or passion.

  6. Using ethical business or private sector approaches to create or expand market-oriented responses to social or environmental problems.

    • Participate in a class with a student-managed investment fund to invest in organizations that support public works like parks, libraries, and schools.
    • Work for a business to develop a product or technology that supports your community's small business owners.
    • Develop a lending project to help people in your community start small businesses.

See our Pathways Worksheet for additional information!

Source: Stanford University Haas Center for Public Service. Please see their work on Pathways by visiting: https://haas.stanford.edu/about/our-approach/pathways-public-service-and....