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ADP Query: Does Your Campus Have a Civic Engagement Center?

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

In the American Democracy Project, we believe that there is no more important public purpose for higher education than the preparation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. To this end, we are constantly seeking strategies that universities have used to fulfill their role as citizen educators. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Western Carolina University, campuses must find ways to institutionalize civic engagement programming in order to fulfill this public purpose. Institutionalization is of paramount importance because it provides every student on campus with opportunities to be educated and engaged as citizens. We use the term “institutional intentionality” to express this notion. Western Carolina demonstrated its commitment to institutionalizing civic education by incorporating Constitutional programming into a basic and required university function: the Quality Enhancement Plan. And many more of our campuses have been creative and bold in their design and institutionalization of on-campus programming.

One way a university can demonstrate its seriousness about institutionalizing civic engagement programming is through the establishment of a center that facilitates and connects the disparate civic engagement activities on campus. An effective civic engagement center can also perform a variety of functions that include (but are not limited to) conducting faculty development on community-based learning, linking interested students to community-based projects, convening the campus community for discussions about civic topics, facilitating equitable and effective community/university partnerships, providing programming for student civic leadership, and partnering with elected officials and community members to solve public problems.

Civic Engagement Centers Query

Mike McCullough is a professor of management at the University of Tennessee at Martin and is helping run a civic engagement center for his university. He’d like to learn more about other civic engagement centers. That’s where you come in. If your campus has a center that handles some of the activities I described above, or other functions I did not list, please take a moment to complete this brief, online survey so that we can better understand such centers. After the results are compiled, we will share a summary of the findings on the ADP Blog. 

To complete this survey, please click this link.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete this survey. Your response will help us better understand this important strategy for institutionalizing civic engagement programming.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Elizabeth Bennion #

    We would like to create a Center for Civic Engagement on our campus. I would be VERY interested in talking with others who already have a center on campus and those in various stages of creating a center. Perhaps there could be a special lunchtime event or workshop time or other designated meeting time during the conference for folks interested in this topic to gather?


    February 4, 2011
  2. This is a great idea, Elizabeth. I’ll see what I can do!


    February 6, 2011

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