Study Tour Houston 2006

“Voluntarism, Diversity, and Civic Engagement”

This study tour will give us the opportunity to inform ourselves on a topic that has been claimed to be essential for understanding the American political system. Political scientists and historians - as well as foreign commentators like Alexis de Tocqueville - have consistently emphasized the importance, and the embeddedness, of civil society and civic participation in the lives, and for the identity, of American citizens. Reference also is made to the impact of the grass roots level for the active involvement of citizens in the political process. Whereas Europeans continue to entertain the notion that the importance of political activities declines from top to bottom, the political system of the United States is considered to have developped from the grassroots upward. As a result local and state matters are believed to be of greater concern to Americans than to Europeans.