The Center for the Study of the Individual and Society will foster and promote research aimed at understanding how and why people become actively involved in doing good for others and for society. Such involvement can take the form of participation in volunteerism and philanthropy, social activism, community and neighborhood organizations, social and political movements.
Shared among these and other forms of citizen participation and civic engagement are the choices to move beyond one's own self interests to become actively involved in working individually and collectively to solve the problems that confront and challenge society. In fact, it has been suggested that the web of cooperative interactions formed when individuals become actively involved in helping others and working to solve social problems are the very fabric of which society is woven. From this perspective, citizen participation and civic engagement are essential ingredients in a well-functioning society, fostering bonds of trust, reciprocity, and social connectedness, and serving as the building blocks of a society able to solve community problems and to respond to the needs of its citizens.
Accordingly, important questions arise about why individuals become involved in such pro-social action, what sustains their involvement over time, and the consequences of such action for individuals and for society. Research relevant to these concerns can have a basic/theoretical or applied/action-oriented focus, or both, and can be conducted with the investigative strategies of psychology (guided especially by the perspectives of social psychology and personality psychology) and related social sciences (such as sociology and political science).
The Center for the Study of the Individual and Society is supported by the University of Minnesota Psychology Department, as well as the College of Liberal Arts.