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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

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