Archive for March, 2011

Announcing the View at 30,000 Feet Series: ADP National Meeting Update

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

We were listening when you told us that you want more opportunities at ADP events to discuss large issues of philosophic and theoretical importance to democracy and the civic engagement movement.  That is why I am pleased to announce an innovative program feature that will launch as part of the upcoming American Democracy Project National Meeting in Orlando, June 2-4, 2011.

Over the past eight years much of the work of ADP has focused on the nuts and bolts of civic engagement. And make no mistake – this is has been intentional because it helps people “do” civic engagement on campus. But sometimes in this attention to the practical aspects of civic engagement, important discussions about the philosophy and theory of civic engagement and democracy are lost. As you well know, these discussions are indispensible to the civic engagement movement because they provide us with a philosophic framework to reference when we’re making the case for civic education. They also offer us inspiration to do the difficult, often thankless job of institutionalizing civic engagement in higher education. So at the ADP Meeting, we will spend time examining the “View at 30,000 Feet.” Facilitators will lead participants through a discussion about some of the big questions in the civic engagement movement – questions about the public purpose of higher education, the importance of incorporating the arts and humanities into our work, as well as being inclusive within the movement to underrepresented groups.

Below you will find descriptions of the five sessions that will launch “The View at 30,000 Feet” series at the upcoming ADP National Meeting.  I hope you will join us for what will be a lively discussion about where we are in the movement and where we should be going.

Don’t forget to register for the ADP National Meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 2-4, 2011. To register for the meeting, view the Schedule at a Glance, and make hotel reservations, please visit this website.


Friday, June 3

10:45 am – 12:00 pm

From Scattered Activities to Civic Identities: Revitalizing the Democratic Purposes of Colleges and Universities

In this session, the discussion leaders will engage participants in a wide ranging discussion about how themes and methods of community organizing can help to transform the cultures of our institutions, reviving state colleges, universities, and community colleges as ‘agents and architects of democracy.’

Discussion Leaders: Harry Boyte, Co-Director, Center for Democracy and Citizenship, MN and Andrew Mott, Director, Community Learning Partnerships, DC


4:00 pm – 5:15 pm

Difficult Dialogues: Innovative Practices in Teaching and Learning

To strengthen a democratically engaged society, the Difficult Dialogues movement seeks to advance innovative practices in teaching and learning that promote civil discourse on controversial topics and complex social issues, reflecting a commitment to pluralism and academic freedom. Facilitators will disseminate literature, programming for faculty, staff, and students in order to advance dialogue and institutional transformation on campuses across the country.

Discussion Leader: Roger L. Worthington, Assistant Deputy Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative, University of Missouri-Columbia


Saturday, June 4

10:30 am – 11:45 am

What is the Future of Civic Engagement in Higher Education?: Next Generation Engagement—Undergraduates, Graduate Students, and Early Career Faculty

The Next Generation Engagement Project comprises a cross-disciplinary collection of civically engaged scholars at various stages in their careers who are exploring new ways to conceptualize the development of the next generation of civic engagement leaders in higher education. The Next Generation Scholars will share their insights, interests, and challenges, and engage the participants in an exploration of strategies for advancing next generation of engaged scholars and practitioners.  Through collaborative book projects, civic seminars, and research on the arc of the career of the publicly engaged scholar, the participants have worked over the past year to embody the future of civic engagement through the development of interdisciplinary structures, mentorship for graduate students and early career faculty, development of graduate programs, and the support of early career faculty.

Discussion Leaders: Timothy K. Eatman, Director for Research, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, & Assistant Professor, Higher Education, Syracuse University, NY, Annie Miller, Graduate Student, Political Science, University of Colorado, Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project, AASCU, DC, and Adam Bush, Founding Director of Curriculum, College Unbound, RI


1:45 pm – 3:00 pm

The View at 30,000 Feet:

Wicked Problems and the Human Creativity Deficit

Attempts to understand and address all issues – be they scientific, social, or existential – through a worldview that reifies objectivity, rationality, and instrumental, top-down application are pervasive.  Not only does such a stance disincentivize the kind of participation through which democracy and civic discourse thrive, it also restricts the kinds of knowledge, the kinds of knower, and the kinds of human and intellectual relationships that could well contribute to solving today’s multitude of crises – what Rittel and Webber (1973) call “wicked problems.” This session invites a dialogue around the unique role(s) arts, humanities, and other cultural and creative disciplines play in campus-community partnerships attempting to solve real-world issues.

Discussion Leaders: Kevin Bott, Associate Director, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life and Timothy K. Eatman, Director for Research, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, & Assistant Professor, Higher Education, Syracuse University


3:30 pm – 4:45 pm

Protest Poetry:  Ours and Others’  — A Participatory Session

We’ve seen in Tahrir Square and around the world, recently and throughout our lives, the power of poetry in times of political action. All are invited to bring poems important to their history, causes and engagement. Martie LaBare will present a brief overview of protest poetry, and she’ll have lots of examples for us — but the selections we bring together will be the treasure of the session. You’re welcome to come just to listen. But you’re urged to bring a poem (or more), in English and any other languages you would read aloud to us.

Discussion Leader: Martha J. LaBare, Associate Professor of English, Bloomfield College, New Jersey

Ferris State University Students Vow to Support Soldiers

“And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy

Drew Davison, Shane Stikeleather and John Lyons meet with a Marine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center

By Cecilia M. Orphan, American Democracy Project

The sixteen students from Ferris State University were worried. They were worried about the wounded veterans of foreign wars. They were worried about how well these soldiers were being supported and they were also worried that many Americans had forgotten their sacrifices. So they decided to do something to show veterans that they are appreciated and that there are students in Big Rapids, Michigan who are grateful for their service. In January of this year, these students traveled to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC to deliver the over $10,000 they had raised to support healing veterans. More importantly, though, these students built relationships with the men and women who have given so much for our country.

The students were interviewed after returning to Big Rapids and they reported being inspired by their visits with the servicemen and women of Walter Reed. One student said his felt “duty to support the soldiers” of foreign wars had only grown after his visit to Walter Reed. The students accumulated the $10,000 donation to Walter Reed during a two-year, student-led campaign to raise awareness of and support for returning veterans. The large donation is symbolic of the level of appreciation the students feel for the service of the veterans being treated at Walter Reed. The students were inspired in one of their political science courses by their professor Christine Bailey to lead this campaign. In addition to offering friendship and financial support, the students hope to show their solidarity with returning soldiers. Additionally, the students had the opportunity to meet with Michigan senators to make the case for better support of returning veterans.

“The purpose is to show our appreciation to the soldiers of what’s been done for our country…We’re just a bunch of college students but through Professor Bailey’s help we’ve been shown that we can make a difference. The most important people to us are our wounded soldiers.” – John Lyons, Student, Ferris State

This story is illustrative of what is possible when students are empowered to engage in complex and challenging social issues. The question of how to reintegrate returning vets into society is one that continues to challenge and at times perplex governmental officials, higher education, and everyday citizens. Too often our returning soldiers are not well-integrated into society and they feel isolated and disconnected while they are attempting to heal both their visible and invisible combat wounds. Hopefully other citizens will be inspired by projects like the one led by Dr. Bailey’s students to bind together with our servicemen and women to show meaningful solidarity and support for their incredible sacrifices.

The students have received considerable local media attention and were named as the most interesting citizens of the week by their local ABC News syndicate. In fact the students were named by the local NBC station as “Persons of the Week” for their work with wounded veterans.

To read more about this project, please visit these websites:

1) Ferris students vow to support wounded military members
2) The ABC12 Persons of the Week
3) Ferris students return home after raising money for wounded

I hope more campuses in the ADP Network will consider what types of projects and initiatives they might undertake to show support of and solidarity with returning veterans. If you have any additional questions about the Ferris State project, please email Christine Bailey.

What has your campus done to support current and returning soldiers?

Walter Reed students host a bake sale to raise money to support wounded soldiers

A Capture the Flag Competition raises money for Walter Reed

Ferris State students meet with US Senator Carl Levin

Campus Spotlight: Public Achievement at Western Kentucky University


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

In 2008 the American Democracy Project partnered with the Center for Democracy and Citizenship (CDC) on the Civic Agency initiative. This initiative seeks to further develop and operationalize the concept of civic agency. The goal of this initiative is to produce a series of national models for developing civic agency among undergraduates and to disseminate those models broadly throughout American higher education. The project combines the strategic and leadership position of AASCU schools in civic engagement – with more than 50% of the nation’s public four year college students, a strong record of educating local and regional leaders, and a flourishing network of ADP schools – with the pioneering theoretical and practical work of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship.

As part of our work with the CDC, Public Achievement has been identified as a proven model for developing student civic agency. Public Achievement is a youth civic engagement initiative focused on the most basic concepts of citizenship, democracy and public work. Public Achievement draws on the talents and desires of ordinary people to build a better world and to create a different kind of politics. Western Kentucky University has been one of the lead ADP schools involved in Public Achievement. Below is a brief synopsis of their powerful and inspiring work.

Public Achievement at Western Kentucky University

By Lindsey Ardrey, Western Kentucky University

Our morning group at T.C. Cherry, the Bowling Green Elementary School Kids, has decided to learn about animal rights, cruelty, and how to educate the public in becoming responsible pet owners.  In the last couple of weeks this group has explored powermapping, researched the various facets of pet ownership, and developed questions pertaining to animal health care, proper pet training, and animal laws and citizen rules to ask professionals. All to prepare them in speaking with leaders of organizations like the Humane Society, RePets, PetCo, and a peer’s mother who is a veterinarian.  In the coming weeks, the students will put their research efforts into action, formulating an informed action plan to educate their peers and community about their topic.

The afternoon the T.C. Cherry group is focusing on playground litter and increasing school awareness on taking care of their school and community. Over the last seven weeks, the group aptly named 2 Kool to Litter, has brainstormed various ways to reach their peers. Just last week they were featured on the school’s news broadcast WTCC News (for only the PA story, click this link and begin at time 3:44). Following this, the group’s powermapping exercise and research will lead them to school and community leaders/experts to contact and further develop their issue.

Students at Bowling Green High School are targeting poverty in Bowling Green. They narrowed this systemic issue, and are in the beginning stages of establishing a mentoring program with another elementary school within the district. PurpCorps, or PCorps, as they have named themselves, are now taking the necessary steps (creating a mission statement, organizing a meeting with their principal, setting up a conference call with projected elementary school principal, learning to draft a meeting agenda,  etc.) to turn their idea into a reality. By the end of the academic year, PCorps hopes to have identified students within the school to build the mentoring program, formed trusting relationships with those students, and developed a clear plan of action for the following year.

As you can see, the coaches, students, and site coordinators for each group are in the business of making things happen! The true strength of Public Achievement is not displayed in the end products. It’s in the youths’ recognition of their own power to think and act as civic co-creators. Students at both the high school and elementary school level started understanding their own power once coaches and site coordinators charged them with the accountability of their own projects. At the high school, productivity dramatically increased after the coaches placed the responsibility of leading and organizing weekly group meetings into the students’ hands. While writing the video script for the WTCC news themselves, under the guidance of coaches and Mr. Norris, the 2 Kool to Litter group learned that their own voices could be heard. After asking if the coaches or other involved adults would make phone calls for them, the Bowling Green Elementary School Kids were assured that through their preparation, they would be capable and competent enough to handle project tasks.

Stewardship of Public Lands Case Study: Unexpected Common Ground in the Controversy Over Coal Ash

Description of the ADP Stewardship of Public Lands (SOPL) Initiative

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

Throughout the United States, but especially in the West, the question of who will control public lands is a hotly debated topic. The public lands of the West including national parks, forests, grazing, and prairie lands are all sites of controversy. The major points of contention are over ownership and use of the land, federal and state-level interests in the land, and local citizen use of the lands. Timber, mining, oil and gas producers, developers, farmers, ranchers, hunters, business owners, recreational users, and environmentalists are all groups who assert claims to influence and use. Yet whose interests have primacy? And in a democracy, how do the interests of all of these groups get addressed and resolved?

Faculty members listen to rancher Martin Davis describe his challenges with wolf and bison management.

For the past six summers, faculty representatives from participating AASCU institutions have spent a week in Yellowstone National Park with our partner, the Yellowstone Association, studying controversies about wolves, bison, snowmobiles, and grizzlies. To date, more than 120 faculty members from more than 60 campuses have participated in the program. Each summer, the week-long program begins with study of the science and history of the controversies, listening to scientists and park rangers. Then at the end of the week, the faculty participants interview local citizens on both sides of the issues, including political activists, business people, ranchers, and ordinary citizens. Throughout the entire program, faculty are challenged to think about ways to build common ground between the various stakeholders in the local controversies of their own communities.Faculty then design programs for students, some focused on the controversies in the Yellowstone ecosystem, while others are focused on local public land and resource issues.

What follows is one faculty member’s story of how she implemented the lessons and strategies she learned during the Stewardship of Public Lands Seminar. We will have another seminar this summer. For more information about this seminar, please email me.

To purchase a copy of the Stewardship of Public Lands: A Handbook for Educators, please visit this website.

SOPL Case Study: Unexpected Common Ground in the Controversy Over Coal Ash

By Christina Jarvis, State University of New York, Fredonia

Like most people who have attended an ADP program, I know the value of listening to stakeholders when exploring an issue. Last spring after participating in the ADP Stewardship of Public Lands Seminar in Yellowstone National Park, I decided to bring together employees from our local coal-fired power plant and an activist fighting the use of coal ash as a traction agent on our county’s roads for a public discussion.

Although open to the public, the March 2, 2010 coal ash panel was part of my “Writing, Sustainability, and Social Change” course—a service-learning class focused on local environmental topics. The event was designed to give students and community members an opportunity to learn more about a very heated and well-publicized local issue. As you will find out if you keep reading, the panel did a lot more than raise public awareness. It helped inspire students to create a clean energy campaign on campus and also formalized a relationship between a clean energy advocacy organization and a power plant.

Diane Hofner, Founder of CROP Plus (Concerned Residents of Portland), spoke first, and in a moving speech shared her motivations for working to have coal ash classified as a hazardous waste and to have its use on roads discontinued. Carson Leikam, the General Manager for NRG Energy’s Dunkirk power plant, then discussed his plant’s operations, recent emissions reductions and the “bag house” technologies behind the reductions.

Things really got intense once the question-and-answer portion started. Ms. Hofner and audience members grilled Mr. Leikam and his colleague Robert Brombos (the plant’s Environmental Compliance Coordinator) for a solid twenty-five minutes about the composition, storage, testing, disposal, and distribution of bottom ash. I began to feel uncomfortable with the one-sided nature of the exchange, until Mr. Leikam skillfully created some common ground by noting that although his plant supplies area townships with coal ash, the company would stop if local villages decided to use other traction agents on icy roads.

This small moment of common ground turned into something larger. After the panel, I discovered that Ms. Hofner had never met these NRG employees in person. Mr. Brombos was able to share environmental compliance and testing information, and invited her to visit their coal ash storage sites. Excited by the panel, some of my students attended town board and CROP Plus meetings, while others went on a tour of the Dunkirk power plant.

Our solution as a class, though, was to promote energy conservation through a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) giveaway during Earth Week. The students distributed 1350 free CFLs, which will collectively prevent 407 tons of CO2 emissions and save consumers $87,048.00 on their electric bills over the lifetime of the bulbs. Although we didn’t settle the coal ash debate, the students felt empowered by their collective action and community engagement.

Another exciting outcome occurred last September during our tour of NRG’s Dunkirk plant. My FACE Center colleague Sherri Mason and I began a dialogue, which ultimately resulted in a $15,300 EcoNRG grant for three community sustainability projects. The first of these projects—another CFL give-away—will take place on March 26, 2011 at SUNY Fredonia’s Green Expo. NRG employees and students (many of whom attended the panel and tour) will distribute 1800 free CFLs and promote energy conservation. CROP Plus will also be at the Expo. Let the dialogue continue!

To read more about the ADP Stewardship of Public Lands initiative, please visit this website.

To purchase a copy of the Stewardship of Public Lands: A Handbook for Educators, please visit this website.

To learn more about SUNY Fredonia’s SOPL project, please see below.

The Democracy Commitment: Community Colleges in the Mix

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

I am pleased to announce the creation of The Democracy Commitment (TDC), a new and growing national civic engagement movement for community colleges. ADP has partnered with TDC to help with the launch and early management of this exciting new initiative. I have been serving in an advisory role for the leaders in the TDC, and I couldn’t be more delighted by their progress thus far and their dedication to opening up the civic engagement movement to community colleges and their students. TDC is an idea whose time has come. With the increasing focus on community colleges as engines for workforce development, it is important for their important civic and public purpose not to get lost. TDC provides leadership for community colleges focused on preparing citizen professionals who will improve their communities and build a stronger economy.

My support and enthusiasm for this project is personal – as a first-generation college student, I attended a community college during my second year of college and I have since been a defender and supporter of their mission to provide low-cost, high-quality education to often under served students. I hope that the TDC will create a common, civic thread between the 2-year experience and the 4-year experience for the thousands of AASCU students (like myself) who transfer from community colleges. I also hope that those students who are attending community colleges to gain a professional skill or trade will also gain a sense of public purpose for their work along with a deeper commitment to their role as citizens.

To help explain TDC, one of its leaders, Bernie Ronan, agreed to be interviewed for the ADP Blog. Bernie directs the Maricopa Community Colleges’ Division of Public Affairs, which includes the Center for Civic Participation. Dr. Ronan has been an administrator in the Maricopa Colleges for the past 20 years. He has also served as Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Commerce, and as Deputy Associate Superintendent of the Arizona Department of Education. Ronan earned his doctorate in public administration from Arizona State University.

Cecilia M. Orphan (CMO): Tell us about The Democracy Commitment (TDC). Why was it created? Who has signed on so far?

Bernie Ronan (BR): The Democracy Commitment is a new national initiative of community colleges, in service to democracy and the future of our communities.

Our colleges play an important role in job training, for which we have received unparalleled national attention. But we also have a vital role to play in educating students for democracy, to be engaged and active citizens in their communities. Our communities need this more than ever, due to apathy and polarization in our politics, and the incredible stresses they face. And our community college students’ ability to exercise their democratic rights and work together in public life, to be generous and tolerant and yet able to advocate for themselves, will help determine the future of our communities.

The Democracy Commitment will provide a national platform for the development and expansion of programs and projects aimed at engaging community college students in civic learning and democratic practice. Our goal is that every graduate of an American community college shall have had an education to democracy. This includes all our students, whether they aim to transfer to university, gain a certificate, or obtain an associate degree.

Our strategy is to reach out to a group of “early adopters,” presidents and chancellors whose colleges are already engaged in and committed to this work. A Founders’ Committee of CEOs who make The Democracy Commitment is being formed, which we think could eventually serve as a national steering committee. They commit a nominal amount to co-fund the start up costs of the initiative, and they name someone to serve on an implementation committee to organize the work.  The initial signatories as of March, 2011 to The Democracy Commitment include:

  • Miami Dade College (Fl.)
  • LaGuardia (NY)
  • Maricopa(Az.)
  • Los Rios (Cal.)
  • Moraine Valley (Ill.)
  • Delta (Mich.)
  • Georgia Perimeter (GA)
  • Santa Monica(Cal.)
  • Riverside(Cal.)
  • Broome/SUNY
  • Lonestar (Tex.)
  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College (Minn.)
  • De Anza College (Calif.)

CMO: Why partner with ADP?

BR: Community colleges have already been working with our AASCU colleagues in the ADP. Our community college colleagues have been involved in local ADP civic engagement projects, participated in regional ADP meetings, and presented at national ADP annual meetings. We know and have worked with the ADP national staff. And the lead organizer of our initiative, Brian Murphy from De Anza College, is himself a former AASCU administrator who was instrumental in the start-up of ADP.

The additional reasons for partnering with ADP are strategic. These are difficult times for American higher education, with budget reductions and loss of programs. The idea of starting a new national initiative for community colleges is daunting, especially when so much else needs attention.

We feel we can create a national community college initiative if we create an alliance with an existing national civic engagement initiative: ADP.  Creating an alliance will provide an extended launch process that conserves resources and leverages the power and connections of this highly successful, eight-year-old national effort.

Community colleges have already been working with our AASCU colleagues in the ADP. Our community college colleagues have been involved in local ADP civic engagement projects, participated in regional ADP meetings, and presented at national ADP annual meetings.  We also know and have worked with the ADP national staff.

In addition, community colleges and state colleges and universities are natural partners, with a shared mission of being “Stewards of Place” for the communities we serve.  Indeed, we share more than a common mission; we are “P-20” partners since we share the same students. More than 50% of the students who graduate from AASCU institutions began their college careers at community colleges.

Beyond our existing collaboration and our natural fit, creating an alliance will offer a number of practical advantages as we develop our own initiative. We can share expertise, resources, networks, project ideas, meetings, and a variety of other products and services which would be time-consuming and expensive to begin on our own.

While our long-range focus will always be on creating an independent civic engagement initiative for America’s community colleges, a collaboration with ADP will offer a powerful pathway to our success.

CMO: How will TDC use the ADP National Meeting as a soft-launch?

BR: We plan to use the ADP National Meeting as a pivotal organizing event – our first chance to meet as collaborators and plan how to launch our initiative.  With the encouragement of the ADP organizers, our faculty and staff are welcome to attend any and all conference meetings. Our plan is to have our community college representatives or teams from the group of signatory colleges in The Democracy Commitment integrated seamlessly into the ADP conference, so we can learn from those who have been doing the work.  We also plan to offer a Featured Session at the National Meeting that will explain The Democracy Commitment to ADP participants, and will also host several concurrent sessions highlighting our civic work. At the same time, we will organize a concurrent session track of organizing conversations among community college reps, to explore the best ways we can launch The Democracy Commitment as a true national initiative.

CMO: What do you hope will come out of the work of TDC?

BR: Our hope is nothing less than having all our students leave our colleges with the skills they need to be active and engaged citizens, and having a resurgence of democratic engagement in our communities. An added benefit would be more vigorous collaboration between state colleges and community colleges across America, which would benefit our institutions in other ways beyond civic learning.

CMO: How can community colleges join TDC?

BR: Participation requires a commitment by the college’s CEO.  To join, the CEO needs to visit the TDC website click the “sign up” link. The link will direct you to an online form that you will need to fill out. We are also working to engage our faculty in this initiative from the outset, and numerous Faculty Senates from our participating colleges are adopting resolutions to support The Democracy Commitment, since they view it as an essential feature of the teaching and learning mission of their institutions.

CMO: Any final thoughts or comments for our readers?

BR: I would personally like to express my gratitude to the myriad faculty and instructional leaders that are working on ADP all across this country.  It is your dedication to democracy that has, frankly, inspired us to undertake a companion endeavor in The Democracy Commitment. And we look forward to many years of collaboration in the work of democracy among our faculty and across our institutions, which will redound to the benefit of our students and our communities.

For more information about The Democracy Commitment, please email Bernie Ronan or visit the TDC website.

Launching ADP’s Informed Citizen Project

By Chapman Rackaway, Fort Hays State University

In today’s highly segmented and diverse media market, it has become harder for college students to determine what is informative and helpful news. Without quality information, an engaged public might still not have the tools it needs to effectively guide a democracy.  With that in mind, ADP along with The New York Times is creating the Informed Citizen Project (ICP).  With the Informed Citizen Project, we hope to share and promote media and information literacy for the 21st Century college student.

As we encourage our students to be engaged in their communities, nation, and globe, we must help them develop the tools to be critical consumers of news.  More than ever, today’s college student must be able to identify the source and crediibility of their news sources.  Bias, error, and varying perspectives all can effect the way we consume and act on our news.  The sheer number of media choices makes it difficult to select a mix of news sources that is helpful and the size of that task often leads news consumers to select from a very narrow media menu.

From newspaper readership programs to integrating critical newsreading in classes, from student round table discussions on political issues to blogging, and from detecting bias on televised news to students creating their own news-related content, there are many existing efforts that universities are using to build media literacy skills among their students.  We will share those efforts online and in publications, as well as develop them over time.

The Informed Citizen Project will bring those existing efforts together with institutions starting new efforts.  We aim to bring ADP member institutions together to share and collaborate on methods to build and improve media literacy skills.  At our pre-conference workshop before the ADP Annual Meeting we will discuss what media literacy is, what colleges can do to improve media literacy skills for students, and plan the exciting first year of the Informed Citizen Project.  We invite any ADP school interested in participating to complete the ICP membership form or contact Cecilia M. Orphan.

Whether you have an established media literacy curriculum or haven’t created one yet, the Informed Citizen Project will help institutions create and improve their media and information literacy projects.  Fort Hays State’s Chapman Rackaway and Illinois State’s Lance Lippert are organizing the Informed Citizen Project and can answer your questions at the special Pre-Conference Workshop at the ADP National Meeting in Orlando, June 2-4, 2011.

Pre-Conference Workshop: The Informed Citizen Project

Thursday, June 2

12:30-3:30 pm

To register for the pre-conference workshop, please contact Cecilia M. Orphan.

Update on AASCU’s Civic Minor in Urban Education Initiative

By Jolanda Westerhof, Director, Teacher Education, AASCU

The Corporation for National and Community Service awarded AASCU a $433,874 Learn and Serve America Higher Education grant to design and implement new Civic Minors in Urban Education on five selected AASCU campuses. The campuses selected to participate through a Request for Proposals process are:

  1. Buffalo State College (SUNY)
  2. California State University-Fresno
  3. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  4. West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  5. Wright State University

The new Civic Minors, open to all university students, will offer pre-service teachers, and their peers who might not otherwise consider a career in education, an opportunity to learn about service learning as a pedagogy, have experiences with service learning in urban settings, and take other courses in the minor which develop a rich understanding of the public policy context with which urban schools are situated.

The ultimate goal of this project is to produce urban teachers who can use service learning as a teaching strategy and who can understand both their clinical work as classroom teachers and their broader obligations as democratic professionals. Each of the new Minors will be unique, but all five will require three Service Learning components:

  • Public Achievement, an award-winning strategy for improving K-12 students’ sense of efficacy and self-esteem;
  • a second service learning experience identified by the urban school district partner (e.g. tutoring, after school programs, community study center, etc.); and,
  • a service learning methods course, to make sure that future teachers can implement service learning with their students.

Each campus has designated two Design Team Leaders (one from the liberal arts and sciences and the other from teacher education). Design Team Leaders from all five campuses participated in an Orientation Program in Washington, D.C. on February 21-23 and will return for a two-week Institute in late June, 2011.

Look for Civic Minor in Urban Education Design Team Leaders at the 2012 and 2013 annual meeting of the American Democracy Project where they will share their work during a plenary session, as well as a special track in the meeting program. We will also create a full day pre-conference workshop in 2012 and 2013 for other campuses interested in adopting the Civic Minor in Urban Education model.

Each campus is expected to have its Civic Minor in Urban Education designed, approved, and in operation within three years.

For more information about this grant, please visit this website.

Announcing the TED-ED Brain Trust

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

As I’m guessing many of you are, I am a HUGE fan of TED Talks. “TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.” (description taken from the TED Website.)

I try to watch a TED Talk every day and find that doing this helps me develop program ideas for ADP. This is why I was delighted to learn that TED will launch an Education strand to its program offerings called TED-ED. TED-ED will collect videos devoted solely to innovations in education.

Do you have what it takes to give a “TED-ED Talk?” Join the TED-ED Brain Trust today! In my view, the most important innovation in higher education to come about in the last 20 years has been the civic engagement movement. Because you are part of this movement, you are uniquely positioned to talk about what you have learned and to share your expertise and best practices. For more information about how to apply, please see below.


“Every minute, three hundred new learners are born into this world. How can TED play a role in enriching the education of these individuals? How can TED enrich the education of the billions of learners around the globe? We need your help to answer these questions.

In a few weeks, TED will be launching an online forum. We’re calling it the TED-ED Brain Trust. We’re seeking the expertise of visionary educators, students, organizations, filmmakers & other creative professionals to guide, galvanize & ultimately lead this exciting new initiative.

To express your interest in joining the TED-ED Brain Trust, please click the button above to fill out the short form. To invite capable colleagues, please share this page. We will notify you when we launch the Trust.” (excerpt taken from the TED-ED website.)

ADP National Meeting Update: Featured Sessions Lineup

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

This year we have a spectacular set of Featured Sessions planned for theAmerican Democracy Project National Meeting in Orlando, June 2-4, 2011. Featured sessions are smaller than the large plenary sessions, but longer and bigger than our concurrent sessions. They provide participants with the opportunity to dig deeply into a variety of topics with some of the nation’s leading experts in the civic engagement movement. Please see below for a description of eight of our exciting Featured Sessions.

To register for the ADP National Meeting, please visit this website.

ADP National Meeting Featured Sessions

Featured Sessions: Block 1 ∙ Friday, June 3 ∙ 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
The Need for Civility and A New Approach to Online Problem-Solving

There are currently two billion people online around the world. With the growth of social networking sites and the increase of online participants, instances of online hostility have grown not just in frequency but also in severity. Online hostility has become a social epidemic and the negative effects on its victims are extreme. This is not acceptable, and we as a global community need to draw a strict line in the sand and say enough is enough.

This session outlines the extent of the problem, addresses the emotional, physical and reputational effects on victims, talks about why the unique culture of college-age students makes them particularly vulnerable, and discusses what can be done to create a healthy online environment where everyone can fully engage and contribute without fear or threat of being the target of unwarranted abuse, harassment, or lies.

Andrea Weckerle, Founder, CiviliNation

Strengthening Local Democracy Through Civic Engagement : Active Citizenship in Eau Claire, WI The presentation will review the civic engagement model and process used to train citizens to do public work and to strengthen democracy within the greater Eau Claire community. Key results and lessons learned in implementing the civic engagement model will be shared.Mike Huggins, Eau Claire City Manager, Tom McCarty, Eau Claire County Administrator, and Don Mowry, Director, Center for Service Learning, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
Developing Democracy’s Hubs: Campus Centers and Institutes as Critical Resources for Passionate Impartiality As the deliberative democracy movement continues to expand, a number of centers and institutes have developed at our colleges and universities across the country that are dedicated to serving as critical impartial conveners and facilitators for their local communities. Such sources of “passionate impartiality” are increasingly essential to a high functioning democracy. Martín Carcasson founded the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) in the fall of 2005, and continues to serve as the director.  The CPD relies heavily on the work of student associates that earn class credit while being trained as deliberative practitioners, and who then work on a wide variety of local projects focused on improving the quality of public discussion and building capacity for community problem solving. He will discuss what brought him to the work, his experiences of developing the center and working with the students, and the future role for “democracy’s hubs” like the CPD in our democracy and our campuses.Martín Carcasson, Director, Center for Public Deliberation, Colorado State University

The Democracy Commitment and ADP

This session will introduce a new national partnership between the American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment, a national coalition of community colleges. How will this partnership work, how can our communities and regions benefit, and how can we assist students in making the transition from community college engagement work to university engagement work?  How is this partnership strategically important during the current period, and how can we grow the connections between ADP institutions and TDC institutions?

Presenters: George L. Mehaffy, Vice President, Academic Leadership and Change, AASCU, DC, Brian Murphy, President, De Anza College, CA, Felice Nudelman, Director, Director of Education, The New York TimesBernie Ronan, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Maricopa Community Colleges, AZ, Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project, AASCU, DC, and Andrew Mott, Director, Community Learning Partnerships, DC

Featured Sessions: Block 2 Saturday, June 4 ∙Noon – 1:30 p.m.
Interactive Townhall on Student Engagement Unlike a political townhall, this will be an interactive, problem-solving session.  Participants will co-create and share various models for engaging students in deeper conversations on campus.  The first phase of the session will consist of small-group discussions about obstacles, and the second phase of the session will consist of small-group discussions about resources and potential solutions.  Participants can expect to share effective practices with each other and to explore partnerships that span multiple institutions.Lucas Cioffi, CEO, Athena Bridge, Inc.
Happiness Initiatives: A New Model For Citizen and Student Engagement Happiness science is hot these days. Models like the Seattle Area Happiness Initiative can help students understand what they need and want from life, and how they can work with others to achieve loftier goals than money and “stuff.”  Learn how this exciting new project from Sustainable Seattle helps students explore the deeper meanings of work and life and draws them into engaged citizenship.John de Graaf, Author, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, and  Executive Director of Take Back Your Time
Strategies for Re-imagining Undergraduate Education: Preserving a Civic Engagement Agenda While Addressing the Forces Affecting Higher Education If the goal of the Red Balloon Project is to re-imagine undergraduate education, the immediate question becomes “What are we re-imagining undergraduate education for?” Answering the “what for” is perhaps the most important part of our work. In this roundtable discussion, we will explore ways to focus our re-structuring and re-thinking on citizenship preparation, and by doing so, protect higher education’s most important public purpose: the maintenance and improvement of American democracy.George L. Mehaffy, Vice President, Academic Leadership and Change, AASCU
Civic Health in the “New Normal” In collaboration with our ADP campus partners, NCoC will explore the challenges and opportunities in mobilizing their civic potential given today’s systemic economic crisis. As an open topic for consideration, it would be our aim to elevate the current dialogue to give education leaders and civic engagement practitioner’s new insights to the challenges they face within their respective campus communities.Kristen Cambell, Director, Programs and New Media, National Conference on Citizenship, DC, Patricia Loughlin, Associate Professor of History, University of Central Oklahoma, and Michael Stout, Assistant Professor of Sociology Anthropology and Criminology, Missouri State University

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