Action needed: Support Democracy in Education

Momentum is building in the American Commonwealth Partnership, and we have a unique opportunity to leverage support for our work. The Center for Democracy and Citizenship has a challenge grant that will match any new and increased gift made by May 31st!

The ACP strives to democratize higher education by opening access, improving curricular and co-curricular teaching and learning, and creating an ethos of  public engagement to make life better for all of us.

So far, generous supporters like you have contributed $13,785 . Help us reach our goal of $20,000 by making a contribution today. Please click here to make a contribution of $50, $100, or $250 today.

The skills needed in both the workplace and our society as a whole require cooperative and productive citizenship to build an equitable, sustainable democracy. To develop such capacities, higher education needs to tap the full participation of all, and integrate science with arts, humanities and design. This requires bold action. ACP develops strategies to help realize these goals.

Higher education must rise to the occasion, and ACP aspires to be the resource and a meeting ground for this great work.

Help us to build a better tomorrow for students and America as a whole. And please spread the word by sharing this link on Facebook,twitter and other social media.

Thank you,

Harry Boyte, National Coordinator, ACP


Post-Event Discussion:”For Democracy’s Future: Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission.” We invite all to join us on facebook and twitter @DemocracyU and convene a local debate on the importance of higher education’s civic mission.

Reinventing Citizenship and the Role of Education

Citizenship has different meanings. For some citizenship means voting. Some see it as a legal status, or obeying the law, or being a good person and a role model. To others it means respecting those of different views and backgrounds.  “Productive citizenship” means making a public contribution through work, paid or unpaid – one can be a citizen teacher, a citizen business owner, or a citizen homemaker.There is no single “right answer” to the question, “what is a citizen?”People also have different views on where education for citizenship takes place. Some see families as the main “school for citizenship.” Other stress schools, colleges, universities or religious congregations. Many see all these playing important though differing roles.
 
This discussion is intended to begin an ongoing national conversation on the topic of what is citizenship, what role does civic education and engagement play in being a citizen and how do we educate for it?

Some questions to get you started:

  • If you were explaining the responsibilities that come with being an American citizen to a visitor from another country, what would you say?
  • As citizens, what do you think we owe to future generations?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of different groups (e.g. families, schools, colleges or universities) in educating citizens?
  • What are your ideas for how we can learn to listen to each other and work together across partisan and other divides?
  • What are the skills and values of 21st century citizenship? Do we have new or additional responsibilities that we didn’t have in the past?
  • Do you think it’s important for students to get involved in civic work on campus and in their communities at large?
  • How can civic engagement benefit our democracy as a whole?
Suggested reading materials and resources:
 
A Crucible Moment: Civic Learning and America’s Future
DemocracyU- American Commonwealth Partnership’s website.
Center for Democracy and Citizenship The Center for Democracy and Citizenship collaborates with a variety of partners to promote active citizenship and public work by people of all ages. The center’s work is grounded in the belief that a healthy democracy requires everyone’s participation, and that each of us has something to contribute.
National Issues Forums InstituteNational Issues Forums (NIF) is a network of civic, educational, and other organizations, and individuals, whose common interest is to promote public deliberation in America. It has grown to include thousands of civic clubs, religious organizations, libraries, schools, and many other groups that meet to discuss critical public issues. Forum participants range from teenagers to retirees, prison inmates to community leaders, and literacy students to university students.NIF does not advocate specific solutions or points of view but provides citizens the opportunity to consider a broad range of choices, weigh the pros and cons of those choices, and meet with each other in a public dialogue to identify the concerns they hold in common.

Highlights From

A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future

A report from the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement


In response to widespread concern about the nation’s anemic civic health, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future calls for investing in higher education’s capacity to make civic learning and democratic engagement widely shared national priorities.  The report calls on higher education and many partners in education, government, and public life to advance a 21st century conception of civic learning and democratic engagement as an expected part of every student’s college education.

 A New Vision for Civic Learning in Higher Education

An earlier definition of civic education stressed familiarity with the various branches of government and acquaintance with basic information about U.S. history.  This is still essential but no longer nearly enough.  Americans still need to understand how their political system works and how to influence it.  But they also need to understand the cultural and global contexts in which democracy is both deeply valued and deeply contested.  Moreover, the competencies basic to democracy  cannot be learned only by studying books; democratic knowledge and capabilities are honed through hands-on, face-to-face, active engagement in the midst of differing perspectives about how to address common problems that affect the well-being of the nation and the world.

Civic learning that includes knowledge, skills, values, and the capacity to work with others on civic and societal challenges can help increase the number of informed, thoughtful, and public-minded citizens well  prepared to contribute in the context of the diverse, dynamic, globally connected United States.  Civic learning should prepare students with knowledge and for action in our communities.

Components of 21st century civic learning should include:

  • Knowledge of U.S. history, political structures, and core democratic principles and founding documents; and debates—US and global—about their meaning and application;
  • Knowledge of the political systems that frame constitutional democracies and of political levers for affecting change;
  • Knowledge of diverse cultures and religions in the US and around the world;
  • Critical inquiry and reasoning capacities;
  • Deliberation and bridge-building across differences;
  • Collaborative decision-making skills;
  • Open-mindedness and capacity to engage different points of view and cultures;
  • Civic problem-solving skills and experience
  • Civility, ethical integrity, and mutual respect.
To advance this vision, The National Task Force urges Americans to:
  1. Reclaim and reinvest in the fundamental civic and democratic mission of schools and of all sectors within higher education
  2. Enlarge the current national narrative that erases civic aims and civic literacy as educational priorities contributing to social, intellectual, and economic capital
  3. Advance a contemporary, comprehensive framework for civic learning—embracing US and global interdependence—that includes historic and modern understandings of democratic values, capacities to engage diverse perspectives and people, and commitment to collective civic problem-solving
  4. Capitalize upon the interdependent responsibilities of K-12 and higher education to foster progressively higher levels of civic knowledge, skills, examined values, and action as expectations for every student
  5. Expand the number of robust, generative civic partnerships and alliances locally, nationally, and globally to address common problems, empower people to act, strengthen communities and nations, and generate new frontiers of knowledge

A Crucible Moment provides specific campus examples illustrating how to move from “partial transformation to pervasive civic and democratic learning and practices.”

See www.aacu.org/civic_learning/crucible for full report; see Chapter 3 for full set of recommendations.


[1] Adapted from the National Issues Forums Institute


Watch “For Democracy’s Future: Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission” Live from the White House and Join the Conversation

On January 10th  2012, at the White House, a group of higher education and civic leaders with government officials will launch a year of activities to revitalize the democratic purposes and civic mission of American education.

The event is called: “For Democracy’s Future: Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission.” The Department of Education and the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP) have joined with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, whose major report to the nation, “A Crucible Moment: Civic Learning and Democracy’s Future”, will also be released on that date.

“For Democracy’s Future seeks to change the long term dynamic that has led to an ‘ivory tower’ culture in many colleges and universities,” said Harry Boyte, chair of the ACP and Director of the Center for Democracy and citizenship at Augsburg College. “In a time of mounting challenges, the nation, and our local communities, cannot afford to have higher education on the sidelines. It needs to be back in the middle of problem solving and helping to lead a rebirth of citizenship,” he said.

The January 10th event will be streamed live at the White House  ( http://www.whitehouse.gov/live. ) Viewers are invited to host their own discussions during the afternoon breakout session. Below, please find the event’s program and the discussion guide, for  those groups and individuals  wishing to watch the event and engage in dialogue similar to those discussions taking place in the untelevised  breakout sessions.

Download “Program”

Download “Discussion Guide”

WHAT: For Democracy’s Future: Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission
WHEN: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
TIME: 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM EST (Streaming will be interrupted from approximately 4:00pm EST to 5:30pm EST to accommodate live breakout discussions at the event. Those watching the live stream are encouraged to concurrently participate in discussions using the attached “Discussion Guide” during the break.)
WHERE: www.WhiteHouse.gov/live
RSVP: Email CivicLearning@ed.gov with “Live Stream” in the subject to let us know you’ll view the event online, or with “Satellite Event” in the subject if you will host a viewing session for others.

DemocracyU  is proud to lead ACP’s social media campaign.  We will be posting event’s updates throughout the day on our  Facebook  and Twitter pages and invite everyone to participate in the on-going discussion to promote higher education’s civic mission.

For more information, please contact Karina Cherfas at kcherfas@gmail.com.

http://civicyouth.org/democracyu

www.facebook.com/democracyu

www.twitter.com/democracyu