Year in Civic Leadership

The Year in Civic Leadership provides you with an exciting, transdisciplinary opportunity to develop a variety of professional skills across civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership through a project-based placement.

This is a placement year comprised of three modules that allow you to put into practice your theoretical knowledge and skills developed during your academic studies, and to critically reflect on this activity while co-creating a community project with a non-profit organisation or social enterprise.

This series of modules will deepen your appreciation of civic engagement, encouraging you to think about how you can make change and enrich the communities in which we live. You will be introduced to the principles of civic engagement & leadership, becoming active citizens as you design a collaborative project to explore different policy contexts of a specific social issue.

What is Civic Leadership?

In recent years, universities are re-embracing their civic responsibility. Civic leadership means “working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community” (Ehrlich 2000: xxvi). This entails a learning environment in which we are enabled to become active citizens who recognize themselves as members of a larger social fabric and therefore consider social problems to be partly our own.

To tackle the complex interdisciplinary challenges of the 21st century on a local level and make meaningful change, we need to have a new and deeper understanding of the role of multiple actors (private, public, academic) across different levels of decision making (local, national, global). While the UN Sustainability Development Goals offer clear targets for the development of activism and leadership potential at each of these levels, the LANS Year in Civic Leadership (YiCL) creates a learning experience, which provides you with the key capabilities and competencies to negotiate 21st century challenges.

Your placement

For your Year in Civic Leadership placement year you will join a community organisation in much the same way as any other employee would. Any organisation/actor engaged with some form of community work qualifies for the Year in Civic Leadership: social enterprises and responsible business/ start-ups (private sector), non-profit organisations, political movements, charities (third sector), as well as local authorities and Councils (public sector).

In module 1, Introduction to Civic Engagement, you will learn how to identify and develop an effective project, producing an appropriate, evidence-based initial assessment. In module 2, Civic Leadership, you will acquire the individual skills needed to advance and implement your project, and will conclude with the writing of a progress report. Module 3 (Civic Impact) concentrates on the realisation of your project. You will formally submit a Policy Brief and present it at a public impact event.

A list of placement opportunities will be provided in term 2 (see placement list 2020-21 [pdf]).

You will develop and implement a collaborative research project over the course of your Year in Civic Leadership. The project remit is open, but needs to align with the aims and objectives of your placement provider.

Your YiCL placement experience will be supported by a range of workshops, weekly individual and group tutorial/mentoring sessions offered by LANS, the Birmingham Leadership Institute (BLI) and the University’s Careers Network, to help you in acquiring the necessary skills to develop and implement your project.

Preparations for Year in Civic Leadership

Year 2 Semester 1 – You will submit an Expression of Interest form by the end of November.

Year 2 Summer Period – Based on the list of available placements you will submit an application form. You will be asked to list your preferred choice of organisations and your application must be supported by a personal statement which explains why you have chosen them.

For further information please talk to Julian Paenke (


Thomas Ehrlich (ed.) (2000) Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, Oryx Press.