Exploring The Three Phases of Citizenship

Authored by Caroline Ott, Graduate Assistant- Fraternity and Sorority Life, Office of Student Leadership Development

With a presidential election looming in the week to come, the word citizenship takes on many different passionate meanings. What comes to your mind when you hear the word: citizenship?

Nelson Mandela once said, “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference”. Citizenship can appear in your residence hall, your apartment, the classrooms you are in, or student organizations you are a part of. You can find it in your family, your friendships; citizenship can happen anywhere!

Citizenship can be broken down into three phases:

Coming Together

Any group of individuals that come together and form a group have completed the first phase of citizenship. Although we can all be good citizens individually, citizenship often comes in the form of a group and their collective leadership skills. A good citizen realizes that citizenship goes beyond the individual, or even the group, and is about the community.

Acting responsibly

In the second phase groups must share similar values and/or beliefs and a desire to make their community and the world a better place. This common purpose drives the individual or group to act responsibly in all of their actions, and in those actions to consider how all of those around them will be affected.


The final phase of citizenship is interdependence. Citizenship requires that individuals acknowledge the interdependence at work of all of those involved and affected by good citizenship, and how the web of positive actions connects us all.

Citizenship is the finale in the social change model. It is taking all of the aspects of creating a strong group and enacting those values to create positive change! We challenge all of you to display good citizenship in all of your community whether they be here at William & Mary or elsewhere!

This series also serves as a lead up to “Elevating Change Leadership Conference.” This is a conference for student leaders (and advisors) looking to learn more about effective leadership and cultivating impactful change for the causes and organizations they care most about. We hope you will join us for the conference on November 12th!  Please visit our website to learn more about the conference: http://www.wm.edu/offices/studentleadershipdevelopment/leadershipconference/index.php