Posts Tagged 'Signature Practices'

Campus Spotlight: UCO’s Constitution Week Programming 2012

University of Central Oklahoma: Constitution Week Programming: September 17-21, 28, 2012

By Mary Carver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mass Communication and Leadership and Civic Engagement, Susan Scott, Ed.D., Professor of Educational Sciences, Foundations, and Research and American Democracy Project Student Organization Faculty Sponsor, and Emily Griffin Overocker, Director of Transfer Student Support and Co-Chair of the Naturalization Ceremony Committee

Constitution Week activities hosted by the American Democracy Project and Academic Affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma included a variety of activities which involved students, faculty, staff and the Oklahoma City community. It was a memorable week in big and small ways.

UCO Voter Registration Contest

UCO Voter Registration Contest

On Constitution Day we kicked off a voter registration drive. Each year Oklahoma Campus Compact sponsors a voter registration contest for universities across the state. Schools compete to see who can register the highest percentage of voters, with awards given in the small, medium and large school divisions. Efforts throughout the campus resulted in the registration of 1060 voters, 7.9 percent of the student body.

Students, faculty and staff came together to promote and assist with the voter registration drive.  The UCO American Democracy Project coordinated with students in the Leadership and Civic Engagement course, Pi Sigma Alpha (the political science honor society), Success Central courses, U.S. history courses, the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, the Women’s Outreach Center, Alpha Phi Alpha and Greek Life, Max Chambers Library, University Relations, the Wellness Center, Central 360 student TV station, The Vista student newspaper, and student housing to make the week a success. Students, staff and faculty worked together across campus to ensure as many people as possible were reached. It was amazing to see so many different people in different departments, colleges and areas of campus come together to be involved in this one goal.

As UCO student, Jerrah explained, “Helping with the voter registration drive on UCO’s campus was an experience that enabled me to truly understand the impact of holding other students accountable for their civic involvement as citizens of such a blessed nation. The fact that we won shows how much UCO students care about their communities and the decisions that impact them: living Central means engaging in and caring about our communities and their leaders!” Our efforts paid off, as UCO won the Oklahoma Campus Compact voter registration contest large school division for a third year in a row. More importantly, a thousand more Oklahomans will be more likely to vote in November.

Constitution Week celebrations ended with 118 individuals from thirty-three countries taking the Oath of Allegiance at the University of Central Oklahoma. The event had multiple components, all designed to recognize and honor our newest citizens. Four federal judges, Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Judge David L Russell, Judge Stephen P.Friot, and Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti from the US District Court, Western District of Oklahoma presided over the court. President Don Betz delivered a welcome that included the central role of civic engagement, global citizenship and responsibility, and the American Democracy Project on campus.

The Citizenship and Immigration Services presented the 118 applicants to the court for citizenship and Court Clerk Robert Dennis administered the Oath of Allegiance to their new country. In a moving show of allegiance, the applicants stood and recited the oath as it was written on their programs. To hear their voices as they renounced their former countries of origin could only cause pause to those of us who are born U.S. citizens as we contemplated the serious and life changing moment.

Students at the University of Central Oklahoma participated in the naturalization ceremony in several ways. Our ultimate goal was

US Courts, Western District of Oklahoma 2

US Courts, Western District of Oklahoma 2

to provide a transformative learning experience for our students, while honoring our new citizens through service learning. This was accomplished several ways. First a small Citizenship Fair was set up and information related to the students’ programs were provided to our new citizens and their families.

Two courses created projects for the new citizens. One course, a computer class, designed buttons for the new citizens to wear. The other course designed a personalized souvenir notecard and the students wrote welcome notes to each new citizen. Members of the class hand delivered the notecards. Corrie, one of the students who wrote a card said, “I hoped to make the new citizens feel welcome and accepted when they read our cards. I also wanted to show them that they should be very proud of their accomplishment.”

Finally, one of the UCO leadership courses volunteered to serve as hosts and helpers from the beginning to the end. They took great effort to serve the new citizens and their families in so many ways including helping them register to vote. They personally went to each new citizen and provided them with voter registration information. Their friendly faces helped the new citizens feel welcomed and honored. One student, Amber said, “It was so unique to see new citizens so excited about their citizenship and so thrilled to get to vote in this year’s election.”

Karla Dougherty, new citizen

The naturalization ceremony was well attended by the UCO community. Sarah, UCO student said, “Watching the ceremony made me feel really thankful that I was born in America, so I naturally have my citizenship.  I realized that so many people work very hard to become citizens of this country. I feel very blessed.”  (Watch ceremony here.) She goes on to share why she felt hosting a naturalization ceremony at our university is important, “Students at a university are learning, not only to expand their scholarly knowledge, but to expand their views on the world as well. The world is a very complex place with so many different types of people.  Seeing a naturalization ceremony is a good way to for students to witness the diversity that makes up our great country.”

As we prepared for the naturalization ceremony many of the students took time to understand the arduous and costly process. It also provided a time for self-reflection where one considered their own citizenship. At the same time, one new citizen, Aura, shared that the experience was professional and touching. She also went on to say that her new U. S. citizenship provides stability and a great place to raise her son. Those of us born in the United States and who attend UCO were given a rare glimpse of the journey to naturalized citizenship through the stories and faces of those who take on this quest. It was transformative, not only for the new citizens, but for those of us who participated in the naturalization ceremony with them.

To learn more about ADP at UCO, go here.

Reclaiming Civic Spaces: The Project for Public Spaces

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

It is important for every healthy community to have public space for citizens to engage in democratic work. AASCU universities are often instrumental in partnering with community leaders to reclaim these types of public spaces for civic purposes. This work grows out of their commitment to being Stewards of Place. Indeed, every community has public space that has the potential to be used for important public work – be it as the site for dialogue about important community issues, public problem solving, community organizing, political campaigning, or other important civic activities.

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.  PPS was founded in 1975 to expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Since then, we have completed projects in over 2500 communities in 40 countries and all 50 US states. Partnering with public and private organizations, federal, state and municipal agencies, business improvement districts, neighborhood associations and other civic groups, PPS improves communities by fostering successful public spaces.

Please see below for additional information about PPS. I hope many of you will consider how the type of work PPS is doing might fit into your own campus’s community outreach agenda. There are also a lot of great resources and tips on the PPS website that could be helpful for you as you’re thinking about how to improve and/or reclaim a public space in your community. The website also has tips on how university leaders might maximize the use of public space on campus. To read these specific tips, please visit this webpage.

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The Re-Emergence of the Public Square

Public Squares enhance urban livability and provide new anchors to downtown development

Today, cities everywhere are thinking more broadly about how to gain an economic boost. Big ticket items, like sports arenas and lavish performing arts centers, which cities once viewed as the key to reviving their struggling downtowns, are taking a back seat to new, lower-cost, high-impact strategies to foster prosperity. More and more, public squares and urban parks, not expensive mega-projects, are emerging as the best way to make downtowns more livable—and not just in depressed urban cores.

A central attraction of cities throughout the world, public squares not only bring economic rewards but offer people a comfortable spot to gather for social, cultural and political activities. They are the pulsing heart of a community and foster true urban sustainability.

Two of PPS’ public square projects recently opened in Houston and Pittsburgh to great fanfare. And in Amsterdam, PPS facilitated a Placemaking workshop that brought diverse stakeholders together to develop a shared vision for an inclusive and livable town square.

 

 

Houston’s new Market Square opened to great excitement this fall, with Mayor Annise Parker declaring, “This is the perfect park: it has history, it has green space, it has food, it has places for the pets, it has places for kids to play.” That’s quite a turnaround for a spot once featured on PPS’s Hall of Shame. This is another milestone in Houston’s progress toward creating a series of great public spaces and a vibrant, livable downtown.  PPS was also a key partner on other Houston projects like Discovery Green and Emancipation Park

 

 

 

Pittsburgh’s Market Square reopened this fall with roaring public approval. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl enthused, “today our vision for this public space became a reality, “citing the newly closed streets, freshly planted trees, outdoor seating, and wider sidewalks  that now run through this historic public space. The opening marked the culmination of years of public process and a $5 million investment in the area, with improvements guided by PPS’ community-based plan for the Square

 

 

 

Amsterdam’s Plein 40-45, has great potential to become a thriving town square for a mixed Dutch, Turkish, and Moroccan neighborhood on the western edge of the City.  Just days after a PPS Master Class workshop, the community started implementing a number of the low-cost, high-impact improvements. The Square was even included on a city-wide boat tour of markets as part of Amsterdam’s annual 1001 Markets Festival.  The recent workshops facilitated by PPS brought stakeholders around the town square together- perhaps for the first time- to develop a shared vision for the space that would include all cultural groups.

One of the main reasons for the resurgence of the public square is that they bring livability and many diverse benefits to a city—at a lower cost and greater speed than traditional large-scale developments.  Public squares that emerge through a Placemaking process are sustained by community buy-in can:

  • catalyze private investment and foster grassroots entrepreneurial activities.
  • nurture identity, encourage volunteerism, and highlight a community’s unique values.
  • draw a diverse population and serve as a city’s “common ground.” Successful squares—those that are sustainable both economically and socially—draw different kinds of people with a series of dynamic places within them offering many choices of things to do—socializing, eating, reading, playing a game, interacting with art, etc.

A recent  Washington Post article focuses on the power of “City Parks” to spur economic growth across an entire city, and it points to two PPS projects, Houston’s  Discovery Green and Detroit’s  Campus Martius, as benchmarks for success. Alive with year-round programming and activities, the best squares offer the type of thriving Public Multi-Use Destinations treasured by urban residents which also generate millions of dollars of investment, proving there can be an  Upside of a Down Economy.

PPS is honored to celebrate these and other public squares that have recently opened to make their cities more livable.  We are seeking your stories about squares in your communities that you think are successful. Please send us a description, photos and facts about the impact of a square that has recently opened or been revitalized in your community so that we can share your successes with others! Email info@pps.org.

Please visit the PPS website for more information.

Question: How might your university reclaim spaces in the community for citizens to do public work?

Writers’ Blocks: An Experiment in Design and Public Deliberation

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

The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that there is a collective unconscious that links all people in the world together. He conjectured that this is why we often witness the creation of similar myths and fables despite great distances in land, language, and culture. While no one can prove the existence of such a collective unconscious, certain events can at times make us wonder if there is something that connects and inspires us all. Case in point: Writers’ Blocks at Penn State University. Writers’ Blocks is very similar to the Democracy Plaza pioneered at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

“The Writers’ Blocks are a series of installation works which foster debate and engagement within public spaces…The project has been developed into a system for everyone to use, easily constructed from commonly available materials.” The blocks consist of artfully displayed chalk boards that showcase student-selected questions with Constitutional dimensions and were originally designed in celebration of Constitution Day in 2007. The blocks are located in a central location on the Penn State campus and feature questions such as “Should the Ten Commandments be posted in public spaces?” “Is torture justifiable?” and “Is intolerance of the 9/11 mosque fundamentally un-American?” (Taken from the Writers’ Blocks brochure.) Because of the installation of Writers’ Blocks, the Penn State community has engaged in an ongoing and sustained discussion about these and other important societal issues. In addition to this discussion, students have learned more about how the Constitution relates to their daily lives.

Aside from the civic learning that is taking place, what is remarkable about Writers’ Blocks is that it was created by Peter Aeschbacher and his architecture students with no knowledge of the Democracy Plaza project at IUPUI.  Writers’ Blocks grew out of a desire by Peter and his students to create discussion on campus about Constitutional issues. In 2008, the model was recognized by the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture with the National Education Honor Award.

“The project functions at two levels: as an example of design thinking applied to a topic outside the traditional bounds of design (the Constitution) and as an example of a problem-solving tool developed by a substantive engagement with an issue (public participation and civic engagement),” wrote Peter in a recent email to me. Peter continues, “my pedagogic strategy in taking on the topic of Constitution Day with first-year architecture students was to challenge them to come to terms with how they define their chosen profession and its public mission. In addition, the students were also asked to follow through with their ideas in a very disciplinary manner: actually designing and building the final projects. This process closely follows a design process of divergence>transformation>convergence at both the active learning as well at the project level.”

Peter and his students have refined the project so that it is easily replicable by campuses interested in using it for Constitution Day celebrations and other on-campus programming. With this goal in mind, Peter is in the process of developing a manual for installing Writers’ Block on other campuses. As soon as this manual is produced, I will share it on the ADP Blog. I encourage leaders in the ADP network to consider creating similar projects on their campuses – be it a Democracy Plaza or Writers’ Blocks or something else that suits the campus environment and circumstances and encourages discussion.

We see this project as a Signature Practice in Civic Engagement. The project necessitates multidisciplinary learning by, for example, challenging architecture students to explore how landscape architecture might create space for political discussions and learning. Writers’ Blocks also supports an ongoing conversation about how Constitutional issues impact our daily lives, thus developing in students a deepened understanding of the Constitution. Finally, Writers’ Blocks allows students to hone the important civic skill of discussing difficult political issues in a civil manner.

Whether or not the spontaneous creation of two identical and innovative projects proves the existence of a collective unconscious is somewhat unimportant for our purposes. What is important is that both projects arose on separate campus communities to create space for a visual and verbal grappling with pressing contemporary issues facing our democracy.

For more information about Writers’ Blocks, please email Peter Aeschbacher. For more information about Democracy Plaza, please visit this website.

Question: How might your campus create civic spaces similar to Writers’ Blocks that support ongoing discussion about Constitutional issues?



Interview with Nancy Kranich on Libraries and Democracy

“Libraries are… essential to the functioning of a democratic society…libraries are the great symbols of the freedom of the mind.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

As part of the Civic Agency initiative, we are launching a special “We the People” interview series. In this series, we will interview interesting people with different perspectives to offer on the “We the People” phase of our work in ADP. This is the second of many interviews that will be included in this series.

Nancy Kranich served as President of the American Library Association in 2000-2001, focusing on the role of libraries in democracies. A tireless champion of the public’s information rights, Nancy has led the library community’s efforts to promote civic engagement, open access, and free expression. I first met Nancy at our Civic Agency Institute. She spoke passionately about the role of libraries in developing student civic agency. Nancy is a great ally and thinker in the “We the People” movement. Here’s what she had to say about libraries and democracy. 

Cecilia M. Orphan (CMO): What kind of impact can libraries have on democracy? Historically, what impact have American libraries had on democracy?

Nancy Kranich (NK): An informed public constitutes the very foundation of a democracy; after all, democracies are about discourse – discourse among the people. If a free society is to survive, it must ensure the preservation of its records and provide free and open access to this information to all its citizens. It must ensure that citizens have the skills necessary to participate in the democratic process. It must allow unfettered dialogue and guarantee freedom of expression. All of this is done in our libraries, the cornerstone of democracy in our communities.

Benjamin Franklin founded the first public lending library in the 1730’s. His novel idea of sharing information resources was a radical one. In the rest of the civilized world libraries were the property of the ruling classes and religion. The first significant tax-supported public libraries were organized in the mid-19th century, conceived as supplements to the public schools as well as “civilizing agents and objects of civic pride in a raw new country.” (Molz and Dain 1999, p. 3). Early on, their offerings included unrestricted access not only to shelves, but also to lectures and exhibits. Sidney Ditzion (1947, p. 74) noted that late nineteenth century public libraries continued “the educational process where the schools left off and by conducting a people’s university, a wholesome capable citizenry would be fully schooled in the conduct of a democratic life.” By the 1920’s, Learned (1924) popularized the idea of libraries as informal education centers, followed by an American Library Association (ALA) report establishing a Board on Library and Adult Education. (Keith 2007, p, 244). During World War II, President Roosevelt (1942) equated libraries and democracy, heralding their role in creating an informed citizenry.

After the war, librarians joined civic groups, politicians, and educators to rejuvenate the democratic spirit in the country. The New York Public Library, describing itself as “an institution of education for democratic living” (“Library Bill of Rights” 1948, p. 285), led a nationwide program of discussions about the meaning of the American democratic tradition and actions on issues of local concern. These programs were described by Ruth Rutzen, Chair of ALA’s Adult Education Board, as ideal opportunities for libraries to assume a leadership role in their communities, proclaiming, “Let us all make our libraries active community centers for the spread of reliable information on all sides of this vital issue and for the encouragement of free discussion and action” (Preer 2008, p. 3). In 1952, ALA joined a national effort to increase voter turnout by distributing election information and organizing discussion groups and other activities in public libraries. The Ad Council created a campaign slogan, “Listen, Read, Look, Talk, Argue, Think and Vote” that was well suited to libraries (Preer 2008, p. 12).  As civic programs evolved in libraries, “the group setting offered an experience of democracy as well as a consideration of it” (Preer 2001, p. 151). Just as important, libraries defined themselves as community spaces where citizens were encouraged to discuss important matters.

Repositioning libraries as informal civic learning agents fits the theory and practice of community inquiry conceived a century ago by John Dewey (1916). Dewey believed that people need the opportunity to share ideas through multiple media in order to understand and solve everyday problems together. To this formulation, libraries bring their role as boundary spanners. Whether face-to-face or virtual, libraries build learning communities that bring people with mutual interests together to exchange information and learn about and solve problems of common concern.

Librarian of Congress Archibald Macleish (1940, p. 388) once avowed that “Librarians must become active not passive agents of the democratic process.” With renewed interest in promoting civic literacy and deliberative democracy around the country, libraries are poised to grasp this cause, build civic space, and reclaim their traditional role. As Dewey once wrote, “democracy needs to be reborn in each generation and education is its midwife” (1916, p. 22). If libraries are to fulfill their civic mission in the information age, they must find active ways to engage community members in democratic discourse and community renewal. For, as Putnam has stated parsimoniously, “Citizenship is not a spectator sport” (2000, p. 342)


CMO: How might a university use its academic library to support and promote civic engagement on campus?

NK: While academic libraries are well recognized for their role in promoting access to a diversity of ideas and serving as depositories for government, community and other useful information, many are well-positioned to extend that civic role by facilitating the exchange and sharing of ideas. Numerous academic libraries sponsor talks and lectures in their newly renovated interactive auditoriums. For example, the Rutgers University Libraries recently hosted a leading expert on water resources who explored the intersection of water, gender, security, environment and human rights. Preceding the lecture, students presented poster sessions that represented different perspectives about the topic. Examples of exciting civic programs undertaken by academic libraries include events convened as part of the September Project like one held at the William Madison Randall Library at UNC Wilmington, which partnered with a local non-profit to demonstrate the transformative power of sustainable and appropriate technologies to alleviate poverty.

Academic libraries ensure an informed citizenry and promote civic literacy. Many present thoughtful, engaging, and enlightening programs about problems facing democracy–programs that encourage more active citizenship. These libraries also help students learn how to identify, evaluate, and utilize information essential for the critical thinking necessary to make choices essential to a self-governing society. Beyond serving individuals, academic libraries also provide real and virtual spaces where faculty and students can gather together to solve pressing problems. In short, academic libraries can play a critical role in kindling civic spirit by providing not only information, but also expanded opportunities for dialogue and deliberation as a practice ground for democracy.

Some academic librarians have assumed more of a role in developing the civic capacity of students so they can revitalize communities and strengthen democracy. For example, Kansas State University Libraries help students learn about complex public issues and practice deliberative democracy. Others provide safe spaces, or commons, where students can discuss issues in a non-confrontational, nonpartisan, deliberative manner. Creating civic space through a formal process of deliberation reinforces the academic library’s essential position as the intellectual heart of the campus.

Extending library programming into the realm of deliberation offers students and faculty a chance to learn together, frame issues of common concern, deliberate about choices for solving problems, deepen understanding about other’s opinions, and connect across the spectrum of thought. Since the founding of the Kettering Foundation’s National Issues Forums in the 1980’s, libraries have hosted and some have even convened these and other types of forums like Study Circles, Choices, and Conversation Cafés so they can involve citizens in participatory democracy. Librarians can also teach the theory and scholarship behind public politics, as well as the methods of convening and moderating deliberative discussions. Another role librarians can assume is to guide the research and participatory action of students seeking to frame their own issues for deliberative forums.  Following a model developed at Franklin Pierce College by Joni Doherty of the New England Center for Civic Life, they can partner with faculty to help students use deliberative dialogue to address diversity, build community, learn techniques to deal with public issues, and develop civic leadership skills.

Academic libraries may also engage their communities in civic dialogue by reading a single book across the campus. Similar to the One Book/One Community reading clubs launched by the Seattle Public Library, this idea has caught fire in cities from Rochester, New York, to Greensboro, North Carolina, and is beginning to take hold on campuses as well. For example, the University of North Carolina recommends that entering freshmen read a select list of books for discussion once they arrive on campus and the University of Chicago assigns common readings, then convenes to discuss impressions and ideas. Other institutions offer students shared reading experiences from such sources as the Project on Civic Reflection; Civically Engaged Reader, a diverse collection of short provocative articles designed to inspire contemplation about the central questions of civic life. Such collective, reflective reading experiences are ideal tools for academic librarians to engage their campus communities in an enriching, provocative exchange of ideas.

CMO: How does your work with libraries, deliberation and democracy relate to the We the People project?

My work with libraries and civic engagement dovetails nicely with the We the People project. Libraries can play a range of roles to empower citizens as civic agents, facilitating interaction between citizens and government officials in order to shape public policy and deepen the national discourse. Libraries provide safe spaces for public dialogue. They disseminate information to the public so they can participate in the processes of governance. They provide access to government information so that the public can monitor the work of its elected officials and benefit from the data collected and disseminated by public policy makers, as well as interact with e-government services and engage with e-democracy opportunities. They serve as gathering places for the community to share interests and concerns.

Libraries also provide opportunities for citizens to develop the skills needed to gain access to information of all kinds and to put information to effective use.  Young people and adults alike must learn a broad range of 21st century literacy skills if they are to become smart seekers, recipients, and creators of content, as well as effective citizens. Teaching students how to find, evaluate and use information effectively is an essential 21st century skill embraced by today’s libraries. Some go further to help students learn the civic literacy skills they need to tackle the problems facing their communities. Milner defines civic literacy as “the knowledge and ability of citizens to make sense of their world and to act as competent citizens” (Milner, 2002, p. 3). The Partnership for 21st Century Skills considers civic literacy,

  • Participating effectively in civic life through knowing how to stay informed and understanding governmental processes;
  • Exercising the rights and obligations of citizenship at local, state, national and global levels; and
  • Understanding the local and global implications of civic decisions.

Urban Agenda/Civic Literacy Project at Wayne State University describes the elements of civic literacy to include citizen thought as developed through opinions and knowledge and citizen action that depends upon deliberation and participation. The organization goes on to describe the requisites for democratic participation ranging from evaluation, dialogue and persuasion, to organizing, planning and institutionalizing action. All of these civic literacy competencies need addressing at the university level. Libraries are the natural partners in building this knowledge and skill set for tomorrow’s citizens.

CMO: Please briefly describe the American Library Association’s Presidential Initiative on libraries as cornerstones of democracy.

NK: As President of the American Library Association (ALA) in 2000-2001, I led a campaign to articulate and communicate the importance of libraries and librarians to our democratic society. Working together at the national, state, and local level, we advocated for open access for all children, young adults, and adults; fair use, privacy and intellectual freedom rights; and narrowing the growing gap between the information rich and the information poor. We promoted information literacy community partnerships and the convening of public forums in libraries about issues of concern to our democracy. We also promoted democracy in emerging democracies in Eastern Europe by helping improve libraries and access to information. A tip sheet: “Smart voting starts @your library” is still used to inform voters. At the end of my presidential year, ALA published, Libraries and Democracy: The Cornerstone of Liberty (2001).

Since that time, I have worked with ALA to expand our efforts to involve libraries with deliberative democracy, launching a membership initiative group to foster civic engagement, a blog, and a training program. During 2010, we established the ALA Center for Public Life in conjunction with the Kettering Foundation. The Center trains librarians to convene and moderate deliberative forums and frame issues of local and national concern. During the first year, ALA formed an advisory committee and began training moderators to convene and conduct local deliberative forums on an issue framed by members: privacy. The Center serves as a hub of a network of active mentors capable of strengthening and expanding their work locally, statewide and nationally, and partnering with other forum conveners throughout the country. Unlike similar centers that exist around the country, ALA provides training to members of a single profession—librarianship, in different locations around the country and documents the growing involvement of libraries with deliberation and other forms of civic engagement. For many years, ALA has worked with libraries to encourage public deliberation, hosting moderator training sessions and other programs related to community building and engagement.

Citations: Dewey, John. (1916). Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: Macmillan.

Ditzion, Sidney. (1947). Arsenals of a Democratic Culture: A Social History of the American Public Library Movement in New England and the Middle States from 1850-1900. Chicago: American Library Association.

Keith, William. (2007). Democracy as Discussion: Civic Education and the American Forum Movement. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.

Learned, William. (1924). The American Public Library and the Diffusion of Knowledge. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1924.

“Library Bill of Rights.” (1948). ALA Bulletin, July-August, 42: 285.

Macleish, Archibald. (1940). “The Librarian and the Democratic Process.”ALA Bulletin, June, 34: 385-388; 421-22.

Molz, Redmond Kathleen and Phyllis Dain (1999) Civic Space/Cyberspace: The American Public Library in the Digital Age, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Preer, Jean. (2001. “Exploring the American Idea at the New York Public Library.” American Studies, Fall, 42 (3), 135-154.

Preer, Jean. (2008). “Promoting Citizenship: How Librarians Helped Get Out the Vote in the 1952 Election.” Libraries and the Cultural Record, 43 (1), 1-28.

Putnam, Robert. (2000). Bowling Alone, New York: Simon and Schuster.

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. (1942). “A Message to the Sixty-fourth Annual Conference of the American Library Association, Milwaukee, June 26, 1942.”ALA Bulletin 36, July: 422.

Milner, Henry (2002) Civic Literacy: How Informed Citizens Make Democracy Work, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.

Question: How might you use the academic library on your campus to support democracy?

Community-Based Research at the California State Universities

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

“Our goal is to support campuses and communities to collaborate equitably as co-researchers to address significant social issues, to promote learning and development, and to advance the creation and dissemination of knowledge.” – From CSU Impact Nov./Dec. 2010 Issue

The California State University system has been providing outstanding leadership in community-based research (CBR) for several years now. We see CBR as an important component of what it means to be a “Steward of Place.” Stewardship of Place recognizes that universities are rich with resources – both human and intellectual – and are uniquely positioned to help solve local problems and advance democracy. One potential area of stewardship that a university can provide is by partnering with the community to research community-based problems and circumstances. Indeed, this kind of research is a potential niche for ADP institutions to occupy because they are often experts on their community circumstances. ADP schools have acquired this expertise through sustained and long-term engagement with their communities, and CBR can help them deepen this expertise and engagement.

We have identified community-based research as a signature practice of civic engagement for universities. Not only does it allow a university to act as a steward to its community, but it also engages students in meaningful learning and research experiences – an area that AASCU institutions continue to provide leadership. Many AASCU institutions have incorporated undergraduate research into their CBR. This has proven to be an innovative and effective strategy for teaching students important real-world research skills while providing them with opportunities to engage with the community in meaningful ways. It also helps focus the attention where it should be: on student learning outcomes.

Several universities in the American Democracy Project have taken this leadership a step further by allowing CBR to count in faculty tenure and rewards structures. This is an important feature of the institutionalization of civic engagement (a key feature of ADP) because it provides incentives for faculty members to be involved in the community and teach their students civic skills.

I hope many ADP universities will contemplate ways that they can become more deeply involved in their communities by conducting research that is relevant to their communities, targeted, and has the goal of addressing local problems. And, of course, all of this should be done through equitable an partnership with the community.

To learn more about the CSU System’s leadership in CBR, please visit this website. For more information about undergraduate research, please visit the Council on Undergraduate Research’s website.

Does your campus engage in community-based research? If so, what kind of projects has it undertaken?

UW Oshkosh Creates Innovative Civic Minor

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

I am pleased to announce that the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh has launched a new civic engagement minor. This is a very exciting program and a notable example of  a “signature practice of civic engagement.” Minors are a fantastic way to experiment with coursework and academic programming that can be spread throughout the entire university. Minors also demonstrate one of the key tenets of ADP: institutional intentionality.

Another innovative component of the UW Oshkosh minor is its emphasis on  “21st Century Skills,” which include communicating with those with whom you disagree, navigating diversity, problem solving, critical thinking, etc. In the Agents and Architects of Democracy Webcast series, we made the case that 21st Century Skills are both civic skills and professional skills because they are needed in communities and in the work place. As a AAC&U learned in an employer survey, employers are most interested in employees who possess these exact skills. With the increasing emphasis on job force preparation and as campuses are pressed to develop their students as professionals, a focus on 21st Century Skills is a way to preserve civic education because this type of education becomes a vehicle for acquiring important 21st Century Skills.

We at ADP salute UW Oshkosh for their leadership in creating the minor and including a focus on 21st Century Skills development. Please see below for the full press release about the minor.

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UWO offers first civic engagement program in Wis.

Press release taken from this website.

A new academic program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh — the first of its kind in the state — will help students become effective leaders who make positive contributions in their professions and communities.

The new civic engagement minor and emphasis will be offered through UW Oshkosh’s political science department starting in spring 2011. Students now can register for the first course, “Essentials of Civic Engagement,” which teaches how to analyze and navigate the policy process. The course has been designed to be both inspirational and practical and will require students to job shadow a community leader.

“Involvement in the community is not a side project for UW Oshkosh; it is our lifeblood. The University exists to benefit the state of Wisconsin, and we take that mission very seriously,” said David Siemers, a political science professor who led the effort to create the minor.”

“Students come to college to learn, but they also should find a sense of purpose in life — a calling. Civic engagement is one way to inspire students and instill in them the skills they need to effectively pursue their passion and effect real change in the world,” Siemers said. “Successful civic engagement requires the development of knowledge, skills and a sense of how values can be mobilized to drive community organizations and public policies. In short, civic engagement moves people from having ideas to having the skills to do something about it.”

The intellectual and practical skills that students will acquire in the civic engagement minor reflect what a recent national Association of American College and Universities (AAC&U) survey of employers identified as most important in the workforce, such as complex problem solving, critical thinking and analytic reasoning.

“Many students already are involved in service projects and volunteerism; however, today’s workplaces demand an even broader set of intellectual skills beyond a traditional major,” Carleen Vande Zande, assistant vice chancellor for curricular affairs and student academic achievement, said.

“Majors across all fields call for the development and application of this knowledge. The completion of a minor in civic engagement will provide students with additional opportunities to apply what they know from their major to solve problems, think critically and become engaged beyond campus,” Vande Zande said.

Braden Frederickson, an education major at UW Oshkosh, said there was no better time than the present to implement the civic engagement program.

“The civic engagement minor is not only a great addition to a student’s resume, but it also is a necessity for society,” Frederickson said. “While some have given up on the younger generation, this area of study proves there are still people who value service to the community, state and nation.

“By adding the civic engagement minor to a portfolio, you benefit yourself, your school and your society,” Frederickson said.

UW Oshkosh offers numerous leadership and volunteer opportunities for students, including the annual Hands on Oshkosh program and Alternative Spring Break, which sends students throughout the country to help those in need. Additionally, UWO’s chapter of the American Democracy Project focuses on higher education’s role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens to participate in a democracy.

“The civic engagement program demonstrates how the University promotes the ideals and values of democracy,” Chancellor Richard H. Wells said. “The new minor and emphasis is an excellent example of how UW Oshkosh prepares students to be active leaders in society.”

Added Provost Lane Earns, “I am extremely proud of our new civic engagement program, which provides multi-disciplinary structure that builds upon existing engagement efforts and establishes new platforms for expanded leadership opportunities both on and off campus. The program epitomizes UW Oshkosh’s long-time commitment to the value of broad-based liberal education.”


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