This call for submissions has now closed

Please share written and published evidence, case studies of best practice, and insights from the lived experience and knowledge of practitioners to help shape policy recommendations and support young people to develop as active and empowered citizens.  

Our two-year Civic Journey programme explores the ways in which young people develop, mature and change as they grow up, forming personal and collective relationships(s) with – and participating in – their local communities and broader society. 

This programme examines existing support structures, opportunities, and ties that bind young people to their communities. It recognises that the question of how we, as a society, can nurture future generations to reach their full potential has practical implications concerning the need for system-wide and ‘joined-up’ thinking. In exploring these, we hope to create greater equality of opportunity, drive economic growth, and shape a more positive and inclusive national culture.   

The Civic Journey programme provides an opportunity for fresh thinking and fresh starts, and for building on best practice. 

Why do we need the Civic Journey?

For too long, policies that aim to support young people to be active and engaged citizens have solely addressed specific issues and been tailored towards targeted age groups. Little attention has been given to the connections between policies, initiatives, or the overall landscape.  

Our project aims to understand and show what the existing ‘Civic Journey’ is like for young people; evidence where it is – and isn’t – working to enable them to get involved and stay involved; and then to innovate to create more inclusive and sustained policies and provisions that supports young peoples’ ambitions. 

What makes the Civic Journey different from previous approaches to youth engagement is its explicit focus on system-wide thinking instead of individual policies or investments, and its emphasis on critical ‘transition points’ between different life stages. The programme builds understanding of the ways in which young people become and are active citizens as they grow up. It focuses on the places and spaces in which they develop civic knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviours and experiences – and explores how local, regional, and national policy and ‘civic scaffolding’ can better support young people in return. Most importantly, the Civic Journey aims to enhance a sense of belonging between individuals and their communities.   

This calls for an integrated and youth-led approach, not a simplistic or ‘one-size-fits-all’ Civic journey that all young people should be forced to take. We need an imaginative way of nurturing and supporting a vast range of opportunities to learn, question, and engage.  

Focused on those aged four to 30, our three key areas of exploration are civic learning, volunteering or social action, and forms of political participation. We are interested in the interplay between these three dimensions, current policymaking and provision within each area at different age stages, and how access, engagement and opportunity vary between sections of society.  

We are also interested in how children and young people transition (‘enter’, ‘exit’ and possibly ‘re-engage’) with various elements of their Civic Journey, and the barriers or obstacles that that cause disengagement or might prevent re-engagement.    

Finally, we are keen to know what we might be missing in terms of key issues, debates and opportunities concerning youth civic socialisation and engagement.

Read our short, accessible report

Why a call for evidence? 

We are working with government departments, public and third sector bodies, community organisations, and – most importantly – young people from across the UK to explore and develop the idea of the Civic Journey. We are also leading an extensive programme of participatory research with young people to identify what they think of the Civic Journey as both an idea and a way of understanding their everyday experiences.   

But we want to reach out far and wide to:   

  1. better understand the existing evidence base;   
  2. stress-test the Civic Journey idea by inviting constructively critical (or supportive) submissions; 
  3. build a coalition of partners who are interesting in refining, designing, developing and promoting a renewed and integrated Civic Journey.  
  4. develop ‘communities of partnership’ to support collaborative next steps projects to address the findings and recommendations of the Civic Journey project.

Topics of interest 

We welcome evidence on five themes. Submissions do not have to address every point raised; they might focus on just one or two elements, or raise an important issue that has been overlooked in our framing of this call for evidence:

Submit evidence to this programme

This call for evidence closed on 30 April 2023 

Submissions can be made in writing (up to 2,000 words) or other creative approach, such as film, photography, spoken word, or other medium. We are keen to hear from as broad a constituency of stakeholders as possible, including:  

  • policymakers 
  • academic and non-academic researchers and research institutions 
  • educationalists 
  • statutory bodies and teams working with young people
  • businesses working with young people
  • schools, colleges and universities running volunteering, social action or citizenship programmes
  • democratic reform organisations
  • civic literacy networks
  • social enterprises
  • youth representation bodies
  • the volunteering and charity sectors
  • youth work practitioners
  • political and citizenship education specialists
  • non-traditional political and social action organisations
  • political parties
  • young people from all walks of life. 

We are keen to receive non-academic published reports and analyses of initiatives and/or programmes (evaluations, final reports, blogs etc) that provide evidence of their impacts and legacies. There are no restrictions in terms of scale of analysis or evaluation, or methodological restrictions.

Confidentiality, data protection and use: important note on submissions  

Please keep submissions as clear, succinct and short as possible. Staff at the Institute for Community Studies will contact you if they require more information.

We are committed to open access evidence. Submissions will therefore be available for anyone to view on request, including names and affiliations referenced. Please ensure you have permission to include any name, personal data or identity in the submission.

If you would like access to a submission of evidence, or if you have any questions about this call for evidence, please contact us.

Read more about use of personal data.


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