Civic Engagement and Public Involvement
In the NPS, Civic Engagement refers to a long-term effort to build and sustain relationships with communities of stakeholders. It includes interpretive and educational programming as well as the planning process and many other activities. Archeology has a role to play, particularly as archeological projects increasingly involve surrounding communities.
Learn more about the NPS Civic Engagement program here.
Director's Order 75A: Civic Engagement and Public Involvement: Director's Order 75A, as well as the extensive list of resources included in it, provide parks with a clear policy statement on the importance of the relationships between parks and the public. Specifically, it “reinforces public commitment to the preservation of heritage resources, both cultural and natural, and strengthens public understanding of the full meaning and contemporary relevance of these resources.”
Director's Order 28A: Archeology requires appropriate consultation and public participation.
- DO28A: 5B. Preservation Planning and Impact Analysis: Effective planning must meet the identification, evaluation, analysis, consultation, documentation, and other requirements of sections 106 and 110 of NHPA; the Programmatic Agreement between the NPS, NCSHPO and ACHP; NEPA regulations, including appropriate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer and/or the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer; and other appropriate parties on project review, site evaluation and registration, and public participation. Parks are required to have a qualified archeologist on the team of experts to review and approve all activities and undertakings that will affect, or have the potential to affect, archeological resources.
- Superintendents: “Manage and provide oversight of the interpretive and educational program through the development of the park strategic plan and the comprehensive interpretive plan, and use civic engagement to initiate and maintain a vibrant and meaningful program.”
- Interpretation and education: “NPS programs help people understand and participate in our civil democratic society. Programs highlight the experiences, lessons, knowledge, and ideas embodied in America's national parks and other special places and provide life-long opportunities to engage in civic dialogue.”
- Junior Ranger Program: “This program generally engages young people in age-appropriate activities that (1) allow them to discover the significance of a specific site, and (2) introduce them to the national park system and the mission of the National Park Service in order to cultivate a new generation of park stewards. Junior Ranger programs invite interactive participation by young people and provide a tangible memento of the young person's participation.”
- Consultation: “Through civic engagement, consultation, and collaboration with diverse constituencies, the NPS fosters the development of effective and meaningful interpretive and educational programs.”
Director's Order 6: Interpretation and Education states that, “NPS interpretive and educational programs will strengthen public understanding of the full meaning and relevance of heritage resources, both cultural and natural, by creating public dialogue and fostering civic engagement.” Furthermore:
Engagement, Present and Future
The NPS builds engagement into its present activities and future plans. For more information on areas where engagement is taking place, see:
National Parks Second Century Commission: The report emphasizes that, “the long-term viability of the parks and the quality of life in surrounding communities increasingly depend on the Park Service building strong constituencies across the full spectrum of our population, as it engages with Americans both locally and nationally.”
- Community Outreach at the James Dexter Site, Independence National Historical Park
- Community Archeology: The Golovin Heritage Field School, a project by NPS archeologists at Golovin Native Corporation
- Hampden Community Archaeology Project
- Stronger Together: A Manual on the Principles and Practices of Civic Engagement, a NPS manual on civic engagement
- Technical Brief 15: State Archeology Weeks: Interpreting Archeology for the Public
- Technical Brief 23: Archeology and Civic Engagement