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engagement personal engagement social change

Spectrum of Engagement, Part 2

When I introduced the Spectrum of Engagement last September, I didn’t know about Heartspace. Conceptualizing this tool helped me to understand exactly what motivates us to develop the connections we want to sustain throughout our lives. I want to revisit it here to expand on the original idea.

Engagement is any sustained connection we make within or outside of ourselves. It happens all the time for everyone throughout our lives. A lot of well-meaning organizations intend to engage people in a particular issue or activity, including schools, religious institutions, nonprofits, and government agencies. In my career doing this work, I have found that all these approaches frequently miss the mark because they negate the role of personal engagement.

In the Spectrum of Engagement graphic above, you will see that I have juxtaposed personal engagement against social engagement with universal engagement between. Personal engagement is the sustained connection people make within themselves. Using the Spectrum as a tool for growth, you can list all the activities, issues, people, places, and experiences you have a sustainable connection to within yourself at the end labeled “Personal”. Social engagement is the sustained connection people share with others. On the end labeled “Social”, list the same for things outside yourself.


What’s different from the original version of this tool is the introduction of the concept of universal engagement. Universal engagement is the sustained connection we all share within or outside ourselves with the rest of everything. The positioning of universal engagement in relationship to self and society demonstrates the interdependent nature of engagement: Everything’s existence literally necessitates the existence of everything else. John Donne, a 17th century poet, explained this best when he wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

This way of seeing universal engagement relies on the idea that everything in the universe rests along a constant, if invisible, strand of interdependence, including activities, issues, people, places, ideas, wisdom, experiences, and more. The wonderful reality is that absolutely nothing can sever this interdependence. It can be strengthened though, and that is exactly what Heartspace is for.

Heartspace, the engine of engagement, drives the sustained connections throughout our lives, our world, and the entire universe. It is amazing, and I want to keep celebrating it. Thank you for joining me!
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

By Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker, writer, trainer, researcher and advocate who researches, writes and shares about education, youth, and history.

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