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Active Citizenship. The search for an answer.

by Jason Pentz
Jason Pentz
University of the Western Cape (UWC) Bachelors in Industrial Psychology and Phi
User is currently offline
on May 07 in Reflection 2 Comments

One of the first sessions that the SAWIP team attended was at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. This dialogue was very informative but left me having a sleepless night as my brain could not stop trying to find the answer to the question “what is active citizenship?” Till today I cannot provide a concrete answer, but I think all my questioning is getting me closer.

Reflecting on the dialogue and pursuing an answer, this is where I am:



What is the definition of active citizenship? To be honest, I do not know.

What are the roles of an active citizen? That too I cannot state with much confidence purely because roles change from day to day all depending on circumstance and relevance to situations. What does seem clear to me however is that active citizens all have common traits; these traits are the foundations as well as the structural pillars to what an active citizen builds their actions on.



Not having a clear definition of active citizenship but knowing that active citizens’ all share common traits, one needs to ask “what are these traits that make active citizens – active citizens?” For me these traits that active citizens share are:

                - Responsibility

                - Ability to make a choice

                - Caring

                - Informed about reality

                - Know who they are and what they can do to bring about change.

- Understand their importance and what they can do to realize change

                - Have a perspective

                - Have a common Vision

                - Awareness

                - Willing to participate

                - Willing to make a contribution

- and most importantly, they are the best version of themselves when working   with and for others.



Without saying that the following is the answer to the question posed earlier, I think that mentioning all of these traits steers me to a point where I can conclude in saying that an active citizen is someone who steps out of ignorance and makes a conscious decision to bring about change, not just any change, positive change. It also seems critical that active citizens know who they are and know what change they want to influence.



With this reflection, I challenge everyone to ask themselves who am I? and what change am I going to influence today?

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About the author

Jason Pentz

University of the Western Cape (UWC)
Bachelors in Industrial Psychology and Philosophy
Jason is a third year student at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) studying Industrial Psychology and Philosophy. Jason, a Springbok Scout, represented South Africa at the track cycling world cup series in 2008-2009 before returning to studying in 2010. A graduate of the Emerging Leaders Academy at UWC, Jason has a passion for leadership and youth development. He dedicates himself to the UWC Peer Mentoring Programme, which focuses on assisting first year students in adjusting to the new challenges of tertiary education. Upon completing his degree, Jason wishes to further his studies in the fields of life coaching and business so that he may achieve his goal of running a leadership academy for both executive and youth development.


sally Wednesday, 16 May 2012 · Edit Reply

Jason, your reflection has identified many elements of active citizenship which, I think, are true. It will be interesting to follow how your thinking on this role of change agents will grow and develop as your SAWIP experience proceeds. Hence, the need for time for this activity.

sally Saturday, 28 July 2012 · Edit Reply

I like your understandin of what an active citizen is.......has it changed at all since your time in DC? NOW is the time for action!

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