Listen here, or download the 35 MB mp3 file.
There is widespread consensus among educators, policymakers, and academics that youth volunteerism “makes citizens”—that people who engage in some form of youth service or activism are powerfully affected by the experience and go on to live more engaged lives. The reality, argues Doug McAdam, professor of sociology at Stanford University, is much more complicated. He believes the great majority of volunteer experiences have little impact. In this audio lecture, part of the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Nonprofit Management Institute, McAdam reviews the results of two follow-up studies of youth activists—those who applied to the 1964 Freedom Summer project and all accepted applicants to Teach for America in years three through eight of that program—and assesses the experiences and their long-term effects on volunteers.
To address 21st-century problems, we need to build a civic infrastructure that serves all members of society, especially those on the margins.