Engaged citizenship: the effect of Blackburn Institute participation on post graduate behaviors and beliefs
The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the lasting effect of participation in the Blackburn Institute on post-collegiate behaviors and beliefs of alumni from The University of Alabama, a four-year research public institution. The Blackburn Institute is a co-curricular leadership development organization that produces graduates who will be engaged citizens for a lifetime. The Blackburn Institute educates, unites, and inspires a network of ethical leaders with a lifetime commitment to collaborative work for the betterment of Alabama and the nation. Six themes emerged from the interviews regarding the participants' experiences in the Blackburn Institute. The themes that emerged from the interviews were 1) characteristics of students selected as Blackburn Fellows; 2) current community engagement; 3) citizenship; 4) benefits of being a Blackburn Fellow; 5) experiences with the Blackburn Institute; and 6) lasting impact. This study determined that participation as an undergraduate student in the Blackburn Institute did have an impact on the behaviors and beliefs of the participants by reinforcing the values that were established prior to attending college. The Blackburn Institute did have a lasting impact on Fellows' desire to be involved in their community. The Blackburn Institute provided Fellows with a greater understanding of the value of diverse opinions. For participants, what made the Blackburn Institute so special was not the opportunity to interact with Dr. John L. Blackburn or attending events; instead it is the network of people that keep the alumni engaged in the Blackburn Institute.