Action Civics and Service Learning

If service learning happens at all, it is often disconnected from civic learning.  How can we strengthen the natural links between these two forms of learning?  Recent research suggests we might need to think “outside the box.”  For example, one recent study (ex: Laura Padilla Walker’s BYU study for found that students developed a stronger civic disposition simply as a result of offering help to perfect strangers.  Other research has found that service learning can promote civic engagement when students are prompted to explore the underlying inequities that give rise to the needs for service in the first place.


Action Civics helps educators to uncover these links by starting from the students’ perspective. Students begin by identifying issues that matter to them and then they identify groups and strategies for addressing these issues. Teachers need tools to help students make these connections and to help establish meaningful or “critical” service learning opportunities that support a reciprocal relationship between the students doing the service and the community being served.

The Panelists

Alexis Bucknam

Utah Campus Compact & Doctoral Student, University of Utah Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

Alexis has worked in higher education and community engagement for nearly two decades. Prior to her appointment as Executive Director of Utah Campus Compact, she served as the Director of Student Programs with the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to working in the Blum Center she held two other positions at Cal as a program coordinator in the Public Service Center and coordinating all the Academic Dean Searches for the university. She also spent two years directing student activities for Mills College and served a year in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps as a Team Leader. She earned her B.S. Management from the University of Utah (U.), M.A. Counseling in Student Affairs at UCLA, and is currently a student in the Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration program in the Educational Leadership & Policy department at the U.

Cameron Diehl

Executive Director, Utah League of Cities and Towns

Cameron became Executive Director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns in October 2017. He started his career at ULCT as a legislative intern in 2006 while at the University of Utah and returned to ULCT after graduating from the University of Colorado School of Law. He has served on the Utah State Bar Civics Education Committee. In high school, he was a member of the Murray City Youth Government. He now oversees the ULCT Local Officials Day at the Capitol for youth council members that he attended as a teenager.

Sidney and Bill Price

Specialists, JustServe

William D. (Bill) Price, a graduate of BYU, had a 33-year career in business and education. Sidney Howk (Sid) Price, also a BYU graduate, has been active in many community organizations and church-related endeavors. They are the parents of three children and 14 grandchildren. In December 2011 the Prices accepted an assignment in San Jose, California to help pilot a community service initiative called JustServe. In January 2013 JustServe was introduced in Denver and Dallas, and thereafter was gradually introduced throughout the United States and Canada. JustServe in now beginning in Mexico, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom and Australia. Prices currently serve as the LDS Church’s JustServe specialists and continue to give support and training for JustServe representatives wherever it has been introduced.

Burton Rojas, Esq.

Development Director, Latinos in Action

Burton was born and raised in the great San Joaquin Valley in central California. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelors degree in Education and earned his law degree at Pepperdine University School of Law. He has worked as a juvenile probation officer, the Coordinator of Diversity and Student Services at Pepperdine University School of Law, as an executive assistant to a renowned film writer/director/actor, as an immigration attorney, and most recently as the Director of Development for Latinos In Action.

Andrew Wilkes, Respondent

Generation Citizen

Andrew Wilkes serves as Generation Citizen’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, where he leads GC’s thought leadership, coalition building, and policy initiatives as a part of the national leadership team. Andrew comes to this role with nearly ten years of experience in public policy, advocacy, and community organizing, particularly among congregations and community-based organizations. Prior to joining GC in 2017, he served as the executive director of the Drum Major Institute, a social change organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In that capacity, he executed public affairs events in Dallas, TX and Washington D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act; established the Beloved Community Initiative, a national resource on spirituality and social justice for faith communities; and relaunched the nationally renowned Marketplace of Ideas Forum – a forum for bringing policy ideas to an audience of changemakers, policy professionals, and nonprofit leaders.

As a Senior Grants Manager at The American Red Cross of Greater New York, he worked with elected officials, public agencies, and community stakeholders to administer a $45 million budget for Superstorm Sandy recovery in New York state and Connecticut. Before that, he worked at Habitat for Humanity – New York City, where he mobilized 140 faith communities across the city to serve, donate, and advocate for affordable housing.

Andrew is a graduate of Hampton University, Princeton Theological Seminary, the CORO public affairs fellowship, and is a doctoral candidate in political science at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He also serves on the board of directors for the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State and Habitat for Humanity – New York State.

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Moderator: Stephen Masyada (also a keynote)

Controversial Topics and Current Events


Nothing prepares young people for civic life more effectively than discussing controversial issues and current events. But in these highly polarized times, facilitating such discussions can be downright uncomfortable for teachers and administrators. Some topics are so fraught with conflict that it’s hard to know where to start the conversation or how to make sure that all students feel safe speaking their minds.  But with the right scaffolding and lesson plans, such discussions can promote a broad range of learning outcomes, including literacy, listening skills, and thoughtful dialogue. 

This session gives teachers the tools and the confidence they might need to resolve the political classroom paradox: balancing the need to facilitate nonpartisan discussion with the need to prepare students to participate in inherently partisan political life.

The Panelists

Chelsie Acosta

ELD and Latinos in Action Educator, Glendale Middle School

Chelsie serves on the Board of ACLU Utah. She is currently ex-officio of the Utah National Association of Multicultural Education (NAME), the NEA/SLEA Social Justice Trainer of Trainers, member of the UEA Ethnic