The Civic House Academic Residential Community is a highly-selective first-year program for students interested in developing themselves as active citizens who are engaged in their communities. The three core values of Civic House are Live, Learn, and Serve. The program challenges students to learn about the unique culture, strengths and needs of communities in Washington, DC as well as to build collaborative relationships with students, faculty, and community based organizations to meet those needs through service.
The Civic House experience begins from the moment the cohort of 15-25 first-year scholars move-in to Clark Hall on George Washington University’s Mount Vernon Campus. Scholars begin their time together a full week before classes start as they go through an orientation to the Civic House program that is facilitated in conjunction with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement’s Institute for Citizen Leaders. From that first week on, the scholars will engage together regularly throughout the year by living, learning, and serving together.
Civic House Scholar '19-20
Civic House Scholar '19-20
The First-Year Experience
Living together as a residential community, Civic House Scholars receive the unique opportunity to take the initiative to shape the sense of community that is formed amongst themselves outside of the structured parts of the program. Scholars can deepen relationships amongst themselves but also will be living with other first-year students who are not a part of the program.
As part of their Civic House experience, Scholars are offered an exclusive community-engaged scholarship course and are encouraged to continue taking service-learning courses throughout their time with the program and beyond. The specific topics of these courses vary depending on the interests of the faculty member teaching the course. A core component of community-engaged scholarship courses is service. Therefore, scholars are required to commit to serving between 20-30 hours over the course of the semester with a community-partner. Depending on the course and the faculty member’s preferences, Scholars may have a pre-selected list of community organizations to choose their placement from or they will be given the freedom to choose an organization that interests them along with the support of Civic House staff.
"Through our fall course 'Principles of Ethical Leadership' we are able to explore how our past experiences have shaped our current leadership styles and build on our knowledge to become more effective leaders for our future endeavors."
Civic House Scholar '21-'22
In addition to the hours required by the community-engaged scholarship course, the Civic House cohort participates in monthly Civic House Saturdays which are themed around the six Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement, developed by the Haas Center at Stanford.
It is a goal of these programming to connect the cohort to organizations, experts, and experiences beyond GW’s campus. Some examples of experiences that have been apart of Civic House Saturdays include: Asset mapping of Washington DC’s 8 wards by public transportation, a panel of Corporate Social Responsibility professionals sharing their expertise in the field, and registering DC residents to vote in conjunction with the League of Women Voters.
Additionally, as a concluding project to their Civic House experience, the cohort plans a week-long service project focused on an issue area of their collective interest in the Spring Semester. This is referred to as the Spring Project, the program’s “capstone.”
Involvement with Civic House does not have to stop after students complete their first year at GW. It is encouraged that Civic House alumni stay involved and there are a variety of ways for them to do so.
In general, Alumni are also often sought out to share their GW experiences with Scholars with regards to getting involved with student organizations on campus, studying abroad, applying to internships, and other relevant topics.
Additionally, each year a small group of recent Alumni are selected to mentor the current academic year’s cohort of Scholars in formal and informal ways such as monthly “Mentor Meet-Ups” which are open to the entire cohort or outings with a small group of scholars.
Also, in years past some cohorts of scholars have enjoyed the experience of living together so much that they choose to continue to live together into their Sophomore and Junior years by taking the initiative of organizing affinity housing accommodations in District House.
"From my Civic House experience I was introduced to lifelong friends but more importantly, I found a passion for nonprofit capacity building and build Community Engagement Consulting. This student led probono consulting group remains active serving 4 DC area non-profit clients with accounting & finance, board development & fundraising, change management & transformations, operations management, and social enterprise services. This experience helped me become a competitive candidate in post grad job recruiting and I now work at one of the world’s leading consulting firms."
Civic House Scholar '16-17, B.S '19
Each year, the Civic House Program is coordinated by undergraduate and graduate student staff and professional staff members housed in the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. To get in touch with the current Civic House Staff, please email [email protected] or call 202-994-9900 and ask to speak with the Civic House Program.
How to Apply:
The application process for Civic House is done at the same time as completing the GW specific section of the Common Application. There is a section on the Common Application where it will ask if you are interested in applying to any special programs at GW such as Civic House, the Honors Program, and the Women’s Leadership Program. To apply please select the box next to Civic House and then you will be prompted to fill out a supplemental essay question that is specific to the Civic House Program.
If you have any questions about the application process, please email [email protected] or call 202-994-9900 and ask to speak with a Civic House team member.