Character Education for Social Action: A Conceptual Analysis of the #iwill Campaign




Purpose: This article integrates two distinct discourses to show how an Aristotelian account of character education can supply a valuable framework for developing a habit of social action.

Approach: We use a review of relevant secondary literature, a documentary analysis of #iwill materials, and an Aristotelian conceptual framework to analyse the quality principles of the #iwill campaign—a cross-sector, cross-party collective impact campaign that encourages youth social action in the UK.

Findings: We show how an Aristotelian account offers useful resources for conceptualising and
applying #iwill’s six quality principles and addresses four practical and theoretical challenges in #iwill’s model. In particular, an Aristotelian account provides a more capacious conception of a habit and offers a revised model for understanding social action’s benefits to individuals and communities.

Practical Implications: With over 800 partner organizations in the UK, #iwill has a significant impact on how social action is practised and supplies a valuable model for other campaigns to follow. By informing #iwill’s quality framework, this Aristotelian account seeks to amplify efforts to cultivate social action as a virtuous habit for life.

Author Biographies

Michael Lamb, Wake Forest University

Dr Michael Lamb is Assistant Professor of Politics, Ethics, and Interdisciplinary Humanities and Director of the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University. He is also a Research Fellow at the Oxford Character Project. His research focuses on character education, the ethics of citizenship, and the role of virtues in public life.

Emma Taylor-Collins, Cardiff University

Emma Taylor-Collins is Senior Research Officer at the Wales Centre for Public Policy, Cardiff University, and the Alliance for Useful Evidence. She is also a PhD student at the Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham. Her research interests include qualitative methods, youth citizenship, feminism, and inequality. Emma undertook the initial work on this paper while Research Associate at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, seconded to Step Up To Serve.

Cameron Silverglate, Wake Forest University

Cameron Silverglate is the Research Fellow in Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University. He investigates leadership and character from various perspectives and applies his research to develop and inform practical programming.


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