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An Empowering Heritage – Democracy Colleges and Freedom Struggles

Democracy Webcast ImageWednesday, February 24

3:00 PM–4:00 PM eastern
2:00 PM–3:00 PM central
1:00 AM–2:00 PM mountain
12:00 PM–1:00 PM pacific

Registration details will be posted to this website on Tuesday. Please save the date of this exciting webinar.

Single Site Connection: $169 USD
Single Site Connection AND archived CD from the program: $253.50 USD
Archived CD (or on-demand): $169 USD

The webinar series, Agents and Architects of Democracy aims to spark discussion and action on the future of higher education and its roles as architects and agents of thriving democratic societies. Join us as we explore the history and future of civic agency, and the theory and practice of empowerment, as an organizing theme for higher education.

Acknowledging higher education’s complex past, this second webcast in the series, “An Empowering Heritage,” looks at forgotten histories useful for today’s change efforts: the ways in which colleges and universities have sometimes functioned as “free spaces” where people develop civic power and confidence. The webcast will explore the roles of higher education in the freedom movement, and look at the history of land grant “democracy colleges.”

Could a renewed focus on agency deepen civic engagement in higher education to include not only activities — programs, centers, and courses – but also a democracy identity, institutions deeply grounded in their communities and regions and “filled with the democratic spirit,” as former Harvard president Charles Elliott once described his university? Will such an emphasis generate new forms of public scholarship, new approaches to engaged teaching, and partnerships which help communities to gain control over their future in a global environment? What are policy and social change strategies to foster empowering cultures and practices in higher education?

This fast-paced one-hour program will offer an opportunity for questions and answers during the program. Do you have a question now for presenters that you recommend they address during the program? Email your question to

Handouts will include the presenters’ PowerPoint images and other supportive articles for your reference.

Participants will be able to:

  • Develop ideas for how to ground current civic change efforts in their institutions’ traditions and history, rather than present them as a revolutionary new departure
  • Learn lessons and strategies from the past for creating and sustaining free spaces – empowering cultures – to counter today’s negative trends
  • Understand current democracy building efforts in a larger and inspiring context that generates hope and a sense of possibility
  • Gain an introduction to a more complex and nuanced “third angle of vision” about higher education, neither simple celebration nor simple critique

Who Should Attend This Webcast?

  • Those involved in the community engagement strand of higher education (service learning leaders, participatory action research groups, etc).
  • The engaged teaching/student as collaborator networks, and groups like AAC&U which have made this a major emphasis
  • Those interested in questions of public scholarship — Imagining America institutions, leaders in disciplines (sociology, history, geography MLA, political science, Social Science Research Council) who have been pushing for “public sociology,” “public history, etc.
  • Those concerned about the trends toward higher education becoming a private good, not a public good.


Harry BoyteHarry C. Boyte is founder and co-director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship now at Augsburg College, and a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. For more than twenty years, Boyte has helped to organize and direct action research partnerships and projects aimed at developing practice-based theory for what works to engage citizens in public life. Boyte is also the founder of Public Achievement, a civic and political education initiative that aims at developing the civic agency of young people now in hundreds of communities in 23 countries. Boyte has authored eight books on democracy, citizenship, and community organizing.  In the 1960s, Boyte was a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization directed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Harry Boyte is married to Marie Louise Ström, a democracy educator with Idasa, the African democracy organization.


Scott PetersScott Peters Scott Peters joined the Department of Education at Cornell University in August of 1999. He earned his Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration (1998) from the University of Minnesota. Before his graduate study, Peters` served for ten years (1984-1993) as Program Director of the University YMCA at the University of Illinois, where he worked with students, faculty, staff, and community members on a variety of civic education and community development initiatives.  Dr. Peters` research program is centered on a critical examination of the social, political, and cultural identities, roles, purposes, and work of academic institutions and professionals. A key theoretical and practical problem his research seeks to address is that of the dilemma of the relation of expertise and democracy in the academic profession.

A second presenter is being secured. As soon as we have confirmation we will post their biographical information.

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