Why Community Matters

Connecting Education with Civic Life

By Nicholas V. Longo

Subjects: American Studies
Paperback : 9780791471982, 192 pages, August 2007
Hardcover : 9780791471975, 192 pages, August 2007

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Table of contents

1. Introduction: The Ecology of Civic Learning
2. Education Writ Large
3. Hull House
4. Highlander Folk School
5. The Neighborhood Learning Community
6. Community Practitioners
7. Conclusion: Taking It Home

Provides a fresh perspective on the undeniable relationship between education reform and democratic revitalization.


Providing a new perspective on the undeniable relationship between education reform and democratic revitalization, Nicholas V. Longo uncovers and examines practical models in which communities play an essential role in teaching the art of democracy.

Nicholas V. Longo is Assistant Professor of Public and Community Service at Providence College.


"Community Matters is a much-needed, timely, and unique addition to the literature on civic education … Longo brings hope and optimism to the tired strain of complaints one usually reads about disengaged citizenship in our flagging democracy." — Theory and Research in Social Education

"...Longo has produced a book that helps to enliven and extend the conversation about forms and functions of civic education." — Education Review

"By discovering the shared underpinnings of these three learning sites—Hull House, The Highlander Folk School and the Neighborhood Learning Community—Longo creates an inspirational road map for educators and activists, and provides, as well, compelling arguments and numerous practical strategies with which to integrate education, community and civic integration in diverse communities. It is, overall, a timely and much-needed call for action." — American Communication Journal

"…a welcome and critically important contribution to the ongoing conversation about the connections between democracy, education, and community … Longo leav[es] us … with … a set of highly readable, richly drawn, and deeply inspirational case studies set within a strong and practically useful theoretical framework. Most important of all, he leaves us with a palpable sense of hope and possibility for the future that is neither abstract nor naïve, nor is it forced." — History of Education Quarterly

"Longo offers his reader thoughtful consideration of an old idea—civic engagement … [He] makes a compelling case for the reconsideration of the purposes of education as well as for a reconsideration of how and where education takes place." — CHOICE

"…offers a distinctive approach to building a historical context for engaged service and scholarship. [Longo] provides us with new sources of inspiration, and changes our basic perspective on the centrality of 'community' in community service … this book could be read as a reminder that there once were giants that found the ability to challenge class barriers, social and professional roles, expectations of gender, and even their own sense of preparedness to tackle monumental issues." — Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

"Nicholas Longo tells the story of how real civic education goes on in a book that opens the door for concerned Americans to the many institutions that can and do shape the civic attitudes and skills of young people." — David Mathews, President, Charles F. Kettering Foundation

"Longo's Why Community Matters is an outstanding work that unearths unknown connections between Hull House and Highlander Folk School, two pivotal community-rooted sites in America in the twentieth century, and their contemporary offspring, the Neighborhood Learning Community in St. Paul, Minnesota. It brings all these to life with vivid stories, gripping history, and a compelling interpretative framework that recasts 'education for democracy' in citizen centered terms. This is a book of abundant hope, expressed through voices of new immigrants, organizers, young people, and educators of all kinds." — Harry C. Boyte, Codirector, Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota

"There is perhaps no more central question for the future of American society than how to educate for democracy. Longo's impressive and hopeful Why Community Matters persuasively makes the case that schools and communities must connect if schools are to succeed and America is to fulfill its democratic promise. Longo convincingly calls on schools, communities, and universities to act and give full attention to the democratic work of building democracy." — Ira Harkavy, Associate Vice President and Director, Center for Community Partnerships, University of Pennsylvania

"Nicholas Longo provides the best contemporary argument for a crucial and often neglected idea. Schools alone cannot prepare young people to be effective and responsible democratic citizens. Civic development is a task for whole communities. The historical detail is fascinating and the conclusions are compelling." — Peter Levine, Director, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)

"For anyone interested in educating young people to be active citizens, this gem of a book will be a source of inspiration. It reaffirms the power of educating students through their whole life experience and explicates a convincing theory of education as an ecological enterprise." — Elizabeth L. Hollander, Tufts University