Archive for August, 2010

Inviting Dialogue in Higher Education

Does note-taking on a laptop inhibit classroom discussion and learning? What about the smart phones in students’ pockets during a seminar? In a recent New York Times article, five neurologists went back to nature to discuss whether unplugging from the digital feed could improve attention, learning, and memory. Another approach that fosters deeper learning and promotes more focused, thoughtful exchange of ideas is facilitated dialogue.

Key questions: What does dialogue make possible for college campuses?  Can it teach critical thinking and reflection? Increase opportunities for creative problem solving? Improve civic engagement? Strengthen campuses while supporting opposing viewpoints? We believe it can.

Working with the national Difficult Dialogues Initiative and the Clark University chapter, the Public Conversations Project engaged eighty educators from across the Northeast to discuss the potential for dialogue to help renew the deep purposes of higher education.

Check out this series of blog posts to learn more about this inspiring project covering the conference including reflections from participants, pictures, and video highlights.  We very much hope you will share these resources (feel free to repost on your blog!) and to help us continue the conversation about how dialogue is making a difference in higher education.

For more information, please email Julie Ebin.

AID Announces Issues Analysts Positions

Are you a student writer/activist concerned with global health? Looking for a new beat? Look no further! Americans for Informed Democracy is recruiting student Issue Analysts to monitor and analyze each of the following issues: sexual and reproductive health, malaria, gender, human rights, and HIV/AIDS. One to three analysts will be recruited for each of the issues above.

And remember, applications are also being accepted for Issue Analysts covering the following issues: water, food sovereignty/agriculture, climate change, oil dependence, nuclear non-proliferation, US engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq, US-Muslim relations, US foreign assistance, and the international financial architecture (G8, World Bank, etc.).

Our vision is that every young person in the United States exercises their power to bring about a peaceful, healthy, just and sustainable world. We educate, cultivate and mobilize a network of young people in the US to take informed action around our individual and collective roles as global citizens.


  • Monitor key conversations around the issue, in the media, on listserves, on campus and in the classroom
  • Contribute thoughtful analysis of current debates and their relevance to students in the form of blog posts, video blogs, video essays, etc., to be featured on our website at least twice/month. AIDemocracy staff will help suggest topics to cover
  • Respond to breaking news, serving as a “rapid responder” on critical and timely issues
  • Join debates on the issue taking place online, in print media and elsewhere. This might involve writing op-eds or letters-to-the-editor in newspapers, commenting on blogs or videos, etc.
  • Write at least one article to be featured in an AIDemocracy student journal or other outlets

Skills and qualifications:

  • Strong familiarity with the issue, through coursework, advocacy, volunteering or otherwise. Additional issue training provided!
  • Excellent writing skills, and the ability to write for a variety of formats: blogs, journals, newspapers, etc. Additional writing training provided!
  • Interest in youth engagement on the issues
  • Ability to work independently

You’ll like this position if you:

  • Follow news and debates around these issues
  • Enjoy analyzing issues
  • Like talking to others about issues you care about

Skills you’ll gain:

  • Issue/policy analysis
  • Writing
  • Blogging / Videoblogging
  • Media: new and print media
  • AIDemocracy will offer support and training to Issue Analysts throughout the year, and Analysts will have priority access to regional and national network events

This is a virtual position that can be performed from anywhere. This is a part-time opportunity (approximately 2-3 hours/week). This is an unpaid position, although Issue Analysts will receive numerous training and publication opportunities.

To apply: Please send a resume and cover letter explaining why you’re a good fit for the position to Put the issue you’d like to cover in the email subject line. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. Analysts should start by mid-September. Visit our website.

A Call to Student Leaders across the Nation

By Yasmin Karimian, ADP Intern and Student, UMBC

Edited by Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

Across the nation, you can find student governments in all types of colleges and universities. Many of us involved in student government have struggled to get our feet on the ground and to make our voices loud enough to be heard. It is time for student governments to see their role as expanding each student’s civic capacity on campus, rather than acting as an entity that simply mimics federal or state governments, bogged down by Robert’s Rule and red tape.

When I enrolled at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), one of the first things that I did was join the Student Government Association. I did this not because I felt that I had to, or because my parents told me to get involved, but because I felt that student government was the logical organization to join if I wanted to affect change on campus. I quickly became deeply connected and learned a great deal about shared governance on campus. Yet it was extremely difficult to create change, unless the SGA were the ones to be the source of funding. At first we blamed the administration, thinking they simply did not want to deal with students. Then we blamed our leadership within student government because they only wanted to beef up their resumes. We also blamed the student body- because they were apathetic; our school newspaper- they were liars; our student events board- they did not actually want students to come to their events; and anyone else we could point our fingers at.

After playing this game for two years, a few members of SGA wondered if it was us that needed to change, not everybody else. Along with another member, I had the opportunity to attend the Civic Agency Institute, sponsored by ADP and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, where I learned community organizing skills. I began to use these techniques such as one-to-one’s, public evaluations, and in general, a more open, inviting atmosphere. It stopped being a matter of “are you going to make the cut to be in the student government,” but rather “where can you fit in this organization.”

Last year, our membership soared, with over 130 members. Our enthusiasm increased and during our student elections more than 25% of our student body voted, the highest voter turnout in the history of UMBC. More projects are being completed than ever before, in reality-more than I can keep track of. We now work with our fellow students instead of simply for them; breaking out of the “client/service provider” model of politics as usual that Harry Boyte often critiques. Students are even beginning to feel a sense of power and respect. We are no longer seen as the misbehaved children on campus, but legitimate contributors to our campus community and culture. Sure, this is an abbreviated version of the story and there are far more challenges and accomplishments, but I am also sure that now is the time for student leaders to re-envision the function and the ways of student governments across the nation. Imagine a world where we are all seen as creators of our own communities, how absolutely fantastic would that be? Student governments could be the stepping stones to that world.

Our lifetimes have been filled with glimpses of engagement and ownership within our nation. From the aftermath of 9/11 that led to our nation reconnecting with patriotism and community, Hurricane Katrina and the sense of connection with those in need and in struggle, to recently, standing in our student unions, republicans and democrats, watching the first African-American President be elected, and realizing that our country will never be the same. Yet the glimpses only provide a short-lived sense of euphoria and then we slip back into the lack of engagement with the financial and social pressures of our lives taking over. We as student leaders do have the opportunities to empower those around, through example, through calculated thinking and initiatives; we can be the change our society needs.

Questions for you to consider: What are the ways that student’s voices are heard on your campus?

Are students viewed as partners on campus or customers who are there for simply four years?

Are there things happening on your campus that help empower students to see themselves as civic agents?

How might we work together to empower all stakeholders on campus, and especially students, to see themselves as democratic actors and culture creators on campus?

Job Posting: WKU Seeks Dean of the College of Business

Western Kentucky University seeks a dynamic intellectual leader to serve as Dean of the Gordon Ford College of Business.  The Dean is the chief academic and administrative officer of the College and reports to the Provost.  The Gordon Ford College Dean must be an effective advocate for the College in academic settings, an engaged member of the business community, and connector with alumni and donors to the College.

Setting: Western Kentucky University aspires to be among the best comprehensive public institutions in the nation and is deeply committed to diversity throughout the campus community.  It is located in Bowling Green/Warren County, home to nearly 108,650 people.  More than 200 years old, Bowling Green is an attractive and comfortable small city that serves as a regional center for health care, commerce, and cultural life in south-central Kentucky.  The University has 20,712 students on its main campus, at three regional campus sites, and in distance learning.  Student enrollment increased 25% between 2000 and 2010, and campus renovation and new construction projects totaling $402.8 million have been completed since 1998, with $71.1 million currently underway.  The University is currently engaged in its second capital campaign, “A New Century of Spirit,” with a goal of $200 million by 2012.  The Dean will play an active role in cultivating relationships with prospects and donors of the College in order to increase private support and to steward existing gifts.

Ford College: The Gordon Ford College of Business was named for Gordon B. Ford, a 1934 graduate of the Bowling Green College of Commerce and founding partner of a very successful Louisville firm that was acquired by the firm now known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the four largest accounting firms in the world.  The College has been accredited by AACSB since 1982, and the accounting program was awarded separate AACSB accounting accreditation in 2009.  The College’s total endowment is $12,000,000.  With 70 faculty members, including 7 endowed professorships, it has approximately 2,000 undergraduate majors and about 170 students in its graduate programs.  The College has professional, traditional, and on-line MBA options as well as an MA in applied economics. Undergraduate programs include accounting, economics, business economics, business informatics, entrepreneurship, finance, international business, management, marketing, and sales.  The College houses five centers of excellence.  Architectural plans were recently approved for a new building to house the Gordon Ford College of Business.

Qualifications: We seek a visionary, creative leader who shares the College’s commitment to academic excellence; student learning; collegial decision making; and participation in the business community, economic development, and fundraising activities.  Candidates should have the following credentials:

  • An earned doctorate in business and a documented record of achievement that merits a tenured appointment as full professor in the Gordon Ford College of Business
  • Evidence of ability to work with external constituencies to attract financial resources, build partnerships, and promote the College
  • Demonstrated commitment to building a strong learning environment for students that stresses academic quality, student engagement, experiential learning, global perspectives, and the judicious use of innovative delivery strategies, including those involving technology
  • Evidence of successful administrative experience and a participatory management style
  • Evidence of effective interpersonal and communication skills that promote a collegial environment and effective problem solving
  • Thorough knowledge of AACSB Standards of Accreditation
  • Evidence of ability to recruit strong faculty and staff and to support their professional development

Application/Nomination Process:

The Gordon Ford College of Business Dean Search Committee invites letters of nomination, applications (a letter of interest; statement of leadership philosophy; curriculum vitae, and contact information of at least five references) or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting Western Kentucky University. Confidential review of materials will begin immediately. It is preferred that all nominations and applications be submitted prior to

October 13th, 2010 to:

Laurie C. Wilder, Senior Vice President

Porsha L. Williams, Principal

Parker Executive Search

Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 2440

Atlanta, GA 30328

770-804-1996 ext: 111

Western Kentucky University is committed to the promotion of regional stewardship and student engagement.

All qualified individuals are encouraged to apply including women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and disabled veterans.

Western Kentucky University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


Washington, D.C.—The Corporation for National and Community Service recently awarded the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) a $433,874 Learn and Serve America Higher Education grant to design and implement a new civic minor in urban education. The minor will integrate K-12 service-learning experiences with urban public policy coursework, offering pre-service teachers and other undergraduates a coherent understanding of the larger context of urban education.

“This project reflects AASCU’s historic commitment to teachers, urban schools and civic engagement,” said AASCU President Muriel Howard. “Our members are uniquely positioned to undertake this initiative and to enhance the preparation of students who, as teachers, can have a profound affect on the learning experiences of K-12 students in the vital area of civic education.”

The minor seeks to instill a deeper commitment to civic engagement and democratic professionalism, and AASCU’s work in this arena and robust framework of existing partnerships and national programs make it the ideal coordinator of this 3-year pilot project. Five AASCU campuses will be selected to participate through an RFP process, and faculty in liberal arts and sciences and teacher education from each participating campus will partner with local K-12 urban educators to create the minor. In addition, internationally recognized experts—including The Washington Center and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship—will provide educators with training and ongoing professional development in service-learning and urban public policy.

Responding to the grant announcement, James Votruba, president of Northern Kentucky University and chair of the AASCU board of directors, said, “If we are going to thrive as a nation, our cities must help lead the way. Strong cities require strong educational systems, and strong education systems require teachers who combine a passion for their work with a deep understanding of what it means to teach in an urban environment. This project will help advance that goal.”

At the conclusion of the project, participating institutions will disseminate the civic minor models they have created to the more than 400 member institutions of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Making Sure Student Voices are Heard in the Midterm Elections: What ADP Campuses are Doing

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, many of our campuses are working diligently to help educate students about the candidates and issues up for vote during the 2010 Midterm Elections so that they will make their voices heard. I want to showcase some of the notable projects taking place to get students to the polls. Below you will find a sampling of the amazing work taking place on ADP campuses all over the country.

Rhode Island College The American Democracy Project (ADP) at Rhode Island College, a campus initiative that promotes political engagement throughout the state, has entered into a partnership with NBC-10, the state’s leading local news station, to present a series of debates and forums to inform voters, support the election process, and encourage citizens to learn about the issues that shape the political agendas of the 2010 election season.

This is the first time that a Rhode Island higher education institution and a local television station have joined forces for election season coverage. The partnership will begin with co-sponsorship of a series of four debates, beginning with the Republican gubernatorial primary contest on Sept. 8, then a general election gubernatorial debate on Oct. 29, followed by both congressional contests broadcast on Oct. 30. Read more here.

University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh For the UW Oshkosh is using student interns to increase student engagement in the midterm elections, a strategy they used with a great deal of success in 2008. These students will help to mobilize their peers to become informed and then vote in the 2010 midterm elections and will earn academic credits through the Political Science department. Activities included in the internship include registering students to vote, organizing nonpartisan discussion forums on elections and issues, conducting polls of UW Oshkosh students, and modeling good civic behavior by teaching other students the value of civic engagement and democratic action. In addition, the UW Oshkosh website has information about the upcoming elections.  To read more about the UW Oshkosh approach, please visit this website.

William Paterson University The ADP group at William Paterson University is running a campaign called Youth Vote 2K10: No Vote, No Piece. The campaign will involve “Youth Vote Zap Teams” who will be “conducting youth voter education and registration outreach” around campus and in three Paterson, NJ area high schools.

According to the organizers, another aspect of the initiative will be to employ a “text-based “Youth Vote Facts” campaign that will disseminate important information regarding registration and absentee ballot application deadline along with facts about the power of the youth vote in NJ.” To read more about this effort, please visit this website.

Emporia State University We are excited in Kansas to finally have the ability to register to vote electronically. At Emporia State University (ESU) we will be searching for innovative ways to encourage our eligible students to register, become informed and vote.  Some of this is anticipated to expand both eCitizenship social networking and America’s Future Project initiatives in connection with the election.  In addition to participating in a national study where we will be sending email messages to many of our students, we are planning some events to jump start this provided our tentative plans do not conflict with the study.  The first is a Constitution Day celebration sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the Law Center, and ESU; it will be in our nicest venue on campus and features an invited speech and a voter registration drive.  The event should have a generous share of highly active members of the community.  We hope to inspire some first-year students to become involved in this event to ensure we are inclusive of those who just became eligible to vote.  We envision students bringing their laptops and having a good share of ESU laptops at the event.  The idea is to have students paired with members of the League of Women Voters to assist others in registering voters.  Hopefully, the students will be able to help some from the League who are not as technologically advanced and gain some measure of confidence so as to encourage classmates and friends to register as the semester unfolds.  These newest students are likely to be from a brand new first-year experience initiative.  Some of them will be part of the inaugural offering of a first-year experience course for undeclared students called Civic Engagement; others are likely to be from another new program for the first-year experience where an entire residence hall floor will be focused on civic engagement.  Ideally, getting these new students involved and potentially in leadership positions immediately will lead to an increasingly committed culture on our campus.  This is just the beginning of the Voter Preparation activities we envision.

Indiana University South Bend: Getting INFORMED Voters to the Polls The American Democracy Project at Indiana University South Bend is hosting a full range of candidate debates to allow students, and members of the local community, to see the candidates up close and personal and to hear the candidates talk about the issues voters care most about. Debates will include: county sheriff, county prosecutor, county council, and U.S. congress. We will host the St. Joseph County debates at the South Bend campus, the Elkhart County debates at our Elkhart campus, and the congressional debates at the local public television station. This list may be expanded to include statehouse, secretary of state, and school board races.

In addition, we are sponsoring a public forum on the referendum to add a property tax cap to the state constitution. The forum will feature speakers arguing both for and against the ballot initiative, allowing students and other Indiana voters to learn more about the issue so that they may cast an informed vote on Election Day. By bringing political debates to campus, we seek to foster student interest and knowledge about the issues and candidates on the 2010 midterm ballot. We are proud of our relationship with the local League of Women Voters and the local public television stations. Candidates now call us to ask that we include them in our debate schedule! This work to inform and engage students on the issues will be supplemented by campus-wide voter registration and mobilization campaigns in all classroom buildings and in the student housing complex. ADP students are committed to getting informed student voters to the polls this November! For more information, please visit this website.

Metropolitan State University The Metro State Votes 2010 banners are up in the skyway on the St. Paul campus, announcing the beginning of another important election season.  With new national regulations in place, Minnesota has implemented an early primary election date.  We encourage each member of the Metropolitan State University community to VOTE, and remind students and others to vote, in this year’s primary election on August 10th.

Beginning the first week in August, Metro State Votes 2010 will be promoting civic engagement events which will continue through general election day, November 2.  Upcoming events include a mock polling place,  round table conversations with candidates for state executive offices including: Secretary of State, State Auditor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General;  on-going voter registration, and in late October we will host a Minnesota Gubernatorial Debate!

More information about these events, co-sponsored by the Student Senate, CCBL, The American Democracy Project, Diversity Learning Task Force, Students for Social Change and University Activities Board, will be forthcoming!

Together we can continue Metropolitan State’s commitment to civic engagement by strengthening our ties to the communities we live in and by exercising our right to vote!

What are you going to do to make sure the voices of students are heard in the midterm elections? Leave a comment on our blog to share your story.

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