Fostering citizenship and discipleship through study circles

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Thu, 12/01/1994
End Date: 
Sat, 05/31/1997

"Study circles" are a small group discussion process that facilitates constructive engaged conversation around controversial issues. The Maine Council of Churches, in collaboration with the Maine Sunday Telegram (the largest newspaper in the state) developed and implemented a study circle process for tenth and eleventh grade students in Maine. The study circles facilitated the identification of issues of key importance to youth, and provided a constructive process in which to engage those issues. Study circles have now been held throughout the state, in sites as varied as South Portland High School, the Catholic Leadership Institute, and the Maine Youth Center. Issues identified for circle discussion included: school funding, valuing children, drug and alcohol use, open campus structures for seniors, violence and crime, gun control, apathy, teenage pregnancy, self-esteem and confidence, eating disorders, racism, discrimination, forcing religion on someone, abortion, and euthanasia. In addition to the ongoing work of the study circles, the Edmund Muskie Institute for Public Affairs, an arm of the University of Southern Maine, undertook an extensive evaluation of the project. (MH)