By Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project
This conference was life altering in many ways. Having Regie perform and give workshops to students was outstanding as it reminded us of the importance of the arts even if the content or genre may make us uncomfortable. Additionally, I have attended several national conference and this was my first time presenting at a national. It had the feel of regional conference with the ability to network and access information immediately. It also was well-organized and I hope to return annually as both participant and presenter. I learned a great deal this past week. Thanks so much.
The quality of this year’s program was outstanding. Each of the concurrent sessions I attended offered practical “take away” information. My running list of good ADP ideas is lengthy.
More than 500 faculty members, students, administrators, and representatives from our national partner organizations gathered in San Antonio, Texas for the second ADP/TDC National Meeting, June 7-9, 2012. The theme of the meeting was “Civic Engagement 2.0: Re-Imagining, Strengthening and Deepening Our Civic Work.”
At this year’s meeting, attendees reported enjoying the dynamic energy created by the large number of students that attended the ADP conference. All told, 95 students attended the ADP National Meeting.
We kicked off the conference with pre-conference meetings and workshops on Thursday, June 7. ADP’s newest Civic Engagement in Action series national initiative, our Campus & Community Civic Health initiative with the National Conference on Citizenship, CIRCLE, and Lyon Software, held its first Civic Health Summit workshop for the 25 participating campuses. Other pre-conference workshops were held by ADP’s eCitizenship and Global Engagement initiatives, as well as The Democracy Commitment, the American Commonwealth Partnership (emerging from ADP’s Civic Agency initiative) and AASCU faculty participating in our Urban Civic Minor grant project. ADP’s Political Engagement Projectheld a pre-conference meeting to assess their progress in the last year and to plan for the year ahead.
We officially launched the conference with an opening plenary session featuring Idealist.org’s founder and CEO Ami Dar. Ami Dar spoke about the need to close the gap between intention and action so that people everywhere can take action on any issue that concerns them, locally or globally, online and in person. Conference participants were welcomed to the opening session by a student from Alamo Colleges singing the National Anthem and by Regie Cabico, poet and spoken word artist performing. Conference attendees were able to network and mingle during the opening reception which featured the U.S. Vote Foundation’s Cocktail Party Civics program (see website for downloadable handouts).
We began the day on Friday with a series of breakfast meetings and sessions that included meetings of the eJournal of Public Affairs Editorial Board, ADP Campus Coordinators, the Global Engagement Scholars, and participants in ADP’s America’s Future initiative. Sessions included “How to Host a Campus Conversation on Climate Change,” “Civic Agency and Student Organizing,” “Making More Effective Use of Science or Knowledge when the Facts Don’t Speak for Themselves” and John Saltmarsh and Eugene Rice’s “What it Means to be a Steward of Place: Evidence of Institutional Practice.”
Following Friday’s breakfast sessions, Alberto Olivas (Maricopa Community Colleges) moderated a Town Hall Meeting USA with two former members of Congress – one a Republican and one a Democrat. This session featured the U.S. Assocation of Former Members of Congress’ Congress to Campus program. Students Makisha Noel (Miami Dade College) and Kaylesh Ramu (University of Maryland Baltimore County) posed questions to the former members of Congress before the forum was opened to general questions. Following the Town Hall, we announced the winners of the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement: Emily Janke, University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Paul Markham, Western Kentucky University (read more in this blog post).
After the morning plenary session, we broke into a series of concurrent and featured sessions. Friday’s Featured Sessions included a TDC student panel on Engaging the Community, “Raising Money to Support a Civic Engagement Program” featuring AASCU’s Grants Resource Center, a National Issues Forum on “Shaping our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want,” a session with The Community Learning Partnership and a session on Siena College’s National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement (NASCE). Other featured sessions on Friday included a session on The Crucible Moment, a session with NCoC on the link between civic engagement and employment, a session with TDC’s Brian Murphy on Teaching the Topics of Today to the Citizens of Tomorrow, a panel on Transforming Campus Voices into Student Votes, and a session on the new Global Challenges National Blended Learning Course (formerly the 7 Revolutions course).
On Saturday morning we featured another set of breakfast sessions including meetings of ADP’s implementation committee, public achievement coaches and TDC’s Campus Coordinators. Open sessions were held for those interested in exploring partnerships with NCoC and the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress. The organizers of the eJournal of Public Affairs also held an informational breakfast session. This session was open to those interested in publishing in and serving as a reviewer for ADP’s eJournal of Public Affairs. (See the eJournal’s call for abstracts of program sessions at the national meeting here.) Participants could also learn more about “Integrating Global Challenges into a First Year Seminar in a Community College Setting” and could attend a planning meeting about Constitution Day 2012 (celebrating the 225thanniversary of the U.S. Constitution) and a general meeting about Democracy Plazas.
Saturday morning’s plenary session featured Byron White, the Vice President for University Engagement at Cleveland State University. Byron spoke about Community Strengths, Assets and Other Ideas We Don’t Really Believe. His remarks illustrated how our rhetoric and convictions can too often fall short of our practice and suggested methods for walking our talk. Following Byron’s remarks, we announced the winner of the William Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement (Mel Netzhammer, Provost at Keene State College, N.H.; read more here).
Saturday’s featured sessions included course redesign and blended learning ideas from the University of North Texas; CIRCLE on capturing and assessing student voting; long term assessment of social responsibility, and Tom Ehrlich on advancing the civic frontier. John Saltmarsh presented on his book To Serve a Larger Purpose; Heartland Community College and Illinois State University talked about their ADP/TDC partnership work; and we learned about high-impact learning practices and community engagement. Citizen Alum was introduced by Julie Ellison and her colleagues and IUPUI and the University of Florida presented on democracy plazas.
The Campus and Friends Showcase and Poster Session was a great opportunity for our campuses and partner organizations to share their work and network with one another. More than 15 campuses and partner organizations had showcase tables and more than 7 posters were presented by students, campus faculty and staff, and partner organizations.
During a mini-plenary, we saluted ADP co-founders and friends, George Mehaffy, Felice Nudelman and Tom Ehrlich. Felice and Tom were (unbeknownst to them) honored with ADP Spirit of Democracy Awards. And Felice surprised George with a beautiful quilt made from ADP campus t-shirts! (Read more about the Spirit of Democracy Awards here.)
After two sets of concurrent sessions, meeting attendees reconvened for a closing plenary featuring California State University, Chico’s Public Sphere Pedagogy. Thia Wolf, William Loker, Ellie Ertle, and Zach Justus presented programmatic and assessment information about CSU Chico’s Great Civil Debate and Town Hall meeting programs. (Read more about public sphere pedagogy at Chico here.)
ADP announced that for this year’s 10th anniversary celebrations, it will launch student video and student logo contests. University of Central Oklahoma student Ganbaa Gansukh created a prototype ADP 10th anniversary video to start the video contest with. You can view the UCO video here. More information including rules and deadlines will be forthcoming!
Afterwards, we celebrated the end of the conference with a closing dinner at Acenar, complete with a mariachi band, Mariachi Palomino, comprised of Alamo Colleges students.
Representatives from 100 four-year colleges and universities and 40 community colleges attended the joint ADP/TDC 2012 national meeting. 95 students attended the conference (compared to 75 last year), including 63 from ADP schools and 32 from TDC schools. This was by far our most successful ADP National Meeting to date. It was an absolute honor to be surrounded by so many people who are passionate about and engaged in the struggle to protect and improve our democracy. ADP continues to be one of the most successful and dynamic civic engagement projects in the country because of the tireless dedication of the 508 dynamic individuals gathered in San Antonio.
We hope to see you in Denver, June 6-8, 2013, for the next ADP/TDC National Meeting where we will celebrate 10 years of preparing informed, engaged citizens for our democracy.
To view the resources uploaded by meeting participants including PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and conference papers, visit the ADP/TDC Meeting Wiki.