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The ADP National Meeting in Orlando is Virtual – June 2-4, 2011 #ADPS11

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

The theme of this year’s meeting, Beyond Voting: Active Citizenship in the New Era, poses the following set of questions: What does it mean to be an active citizen? How does online technology shape our citizenship behaviors? Are there generational differences in how we think about citizenship? What are the key citizenship behaviors and skills that students should possess by the time they graduate? What are the signature pedagogies and practices that encourage students to become active citizens? During our meeting in Orlando, we will explore effective strategies to engage citizens in civic work with these questions in mind.

The 2011 American Democracy Project National Meeting will host featured sessions, small and large workshops, a new “View from 30,000 Feet” series, spectacular keynote addresses, a Game of Politics Simulation, a National Issues Forum, and a robust set of concurrent sessions.

In addition to these special program features and because of the success of our eCitizenship: New Tools, New Strategies, New Spaces initiative, we have added online dimensions to the ADP National Meeting in Orlando. We are using a suite of online tools to share resources and connect people at the meeting. Please see below for a list of our social networking tools and remember to  connect with your colleagues! And if you are not able to join us in Orlando, use these tools to follow the meeting.

ADP Meeting Wiki:  You will find the full meeting program, suggested pre-reading, and PowerPoint presentations on this wiki on the ADP Meeting Wiki. To view the wiki, visit this website.

ADP National Meeting Twitter Hash Tag:  #ADPS11 Follow the ADP National Meeting on Twitter: #ADPS11 . Go to Twitter and search “#ADPS11” (don’t forget the pound (#) sign!). If you feel inspired, sign up for a Twitter account and Tweet your comments and questions. Remember to include the #ADPS11 in your comment and it will show up in our ADP National Meeting stream. People who aren’t able to join us in Orlando will be following along remotely using Twitter. While you’re at it, follow ADP on Twitter!

ADP YouTube ChannelWe are encouraging participants to upload portions of the meeting that they capture. If you capture video of the ADP National Meeting, remember to link it to the ADP YouTube page.

ADP Facebook: Become a fan of ADP on Facebook and connect with your colleagues before the meeting! Post comments and thoughts about the meeting on our wall. Be sure to use the meeting hash tag when you post comments on our wall (#ADPS11).

ADP Blog: I will also do some live blogging during the meeting so be sure to check the blog June 2-4, 2011, for blog stories about the meeting.

See you in Orlando!

Introducing Jennifer Domagal-Goldman – The New National Manager of ADP!

By Cecilia M. Orphan

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I will be going to graduate school in the fall and leaving ADP.  After this summer I will no longer serve as the National Manager of the American Democracy Project.  I have spent five years in this position and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I have had to grow as a professional and to take part in higher education’s struggle to protect and improve American democracy. This fall I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania where I will pursue a Ph.D. in higher education with an emphasis in civic engagement. The program is a perfect fit with my professional and academic interests and I will be advised by Matthew Hartley, a long-time leader in and champion of the civic engagement movement.

I am pleased to announce that we have identified the new National Manager of the American Democracy Project. Jennifer Domagal-Goldman will take over leadership of ADP in late July. Jennifer comes to us with years of experience with on-campus civic engagement work and doctoral research focused on civic engagement in higher education. Jennifer has been a long-time supporter of ADP and has attended two of our events.  She is very familiar with our work and brings to the Project a passion for higher education’s role in preparing informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. We simply could not have found a better person to head ADP.

Jennifer will  join us in Orlando next week. If you plan to attend the ADP National Meeting (#ADPS11), please be sure to introduce yourself to her.

I will take my leave in late July so you will continue to hear from me until then. It is a great comfort to know that I can pass the Project off to someone who is not only extremely capable of leading ADP but is also deeply committed to our work.  Please see below for a brief introductory message from Jennifer.

See you in Orlando!

Jen and her dog Bailey

By Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project

I am honored to be selected as Cecilia’s successor. Though new to this position, I am no stranger to the American Democracy Project. My introduction to ADP occurred during the first semester of my doctoral studies. While writing a policy brief on the mandate that educational institutions celebrate Constitution Day, I researched efforts by national associations to strengthen democratic education and engagement efforts at colleges and universities. As part of that research, I interviewed Mary-Kathryn McKenna, ADP’s first program coordinator, and was impressed by what I learned. Later in my graduate career, I attended ADP’s 2007 Stewardship of Public Lands seminar in Yellowstone and delivered a presentation on Penn State’s Civic and Community Engagement Minor at the 2007 ADP National Meeting in Philadelphia.

I earned my doctorate in higher education from Penn State University last August. I also have a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from the University of Vermont, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Rochester.

While at Penn State, I worked as a graduate fellow in the Office of Undergraduate Education with the Minor in Civic and Community Engagement and the Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy. My dissertation research focused on how faculty members learn to teach for civic purposes and with community-oriented pedagogies in their undergraduate courses.

I am deeply committed to ADP’s mission to prepare the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy, and I am honored to be able to continue to advance the work of this important and innovative initiative. While I don’t officially begin work until July, I will be attending next week’s annual meeting in Orlando and look forward to meeting many of you there!

Campus Spotlight: SUNY Fredonia Celebrates Earth Week

By Sherri A. Mason, State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia

The key to saving our planet is simply to find a way to live in harmony with it. That means finding a balance in what we take from the Earth and what we give back to it. It is not about abstinence or extremes, it is about harmony and symbiosis. It is about finding the balance, in ourselves, our lives, and our society.

SUNY Fredonia’s Earth Week series is intended to provide activities and educational events to raise awareness of the breadth of sustainability issues facing our society and provide the tools necessary to reduce our negative impact upon our home.

Fredonia hosted its first ever Earth Week series of events in 2008 primarily as a voice to the then newly created Sustainability Committee. Now in its fourth year, the Earth Week Series has become one of the largest and most prominent annual events on the SUNY Fredonia campus. While our first two Earth Week Series of events were very successful, we took our community engagement and educational outreach activities to a whole new level with Earth Week 2010 and 2011 through our collaboration with the SUNY Fredonia Academic Community Engagement (FACE) Center.

The FACE center promotes campus and community collaboration in the areas of civic engagement, sustainability, service learning, and community-based research.

Past Earth Week Series:

Earth Week 2010: Be The Change

Earth Week 2009: Rethink. React. Restore.

Earth Week 2008: Our Home. Our Earth. Our Choice.

Since its launch, the Earth Week Series has grown into one of the biggest and best attended event series on the SUNY Fredonia campus. In 2010, it had grown to 42 events occurring over 11 days! Owing to its size and the need to be sustainable everyday, not just Earth Day, in 2011 the Earth Week series grew into the Sustainability Series, which occurred through the Spring 2011 semester (January through May, 2011). Our Sustainability/Earth Week Series of events include: guest speakers, film screenings, panel presentations, Eco-Fairs, Beach Clean-Ups and Tree Planting activities to name a few examples.

The planning for this year’s Earth Week Series was led by the Sustainability Committee and the FACE Center, plus numerous student groups such as the Campus Climate Challenge, Political Science Association, Public Relations Student Association, Physics Club, Women’s Student Union, etc. We also organize events with departmental representatives from across campus including Dance, Theater, Music, Political Science, Geosciences, Chemistry, etc.

We host a number of events in the community making use of our Opera house for two performances of ‘Arts for the Earth’, making use of our Village Commons area for a ‘Dumpster Dive’ and making use of local Coffee Houses for Film Screenings and panel discussions. Additionally we engage community members who also serve as environmental activists to serve as panelists for our discussions. We also host events such as the Green expo and Shake the habit which feature and encourage our local business community to be more sustainability minded and feature their green initiatives.

Our goals is to reach out to a wide array of people and organizations and to provide multiple venues/activities for people of various backgrounds to engage using artist interpretations, movies, actions- dumpster dives, duathlons, tree plantings, clean-ups. We recognize that every person has their own entry point into caring about the environment- all of that diversity.

To learn more about SUNY Fredonia’s innovative Earth Week Series, visit this website. To learn more about the FACE Center, visit this website.

What did your campus do for Earth Day/Week?

Native Plant Gardens

Dumpster Diving for Earth Week

Organic Lawn Care

Campus Spotlight: eCitizenship at William Paterson University of New Jersey

By Christine A. Kelly, Professor, William Paterson University of New Jersey

William Paterson University has undertaken a comprehensive approach to integrating web 2.0 tools into all our ADP initiatives.  We launched a student web design contest and had a entire web 2.0 makeover: our new website incorporates:

  1. Commmunity Mapping of 130 community Partners,
  2. Facebook and Twitter elements primarily supporting our Youth Vote 2K10 and 2K11 campaigns;
  3. An interactive searchable database aiming to match students and faculty (classes) with community partners seeking volunteers and support. Our site also features a YouTube window for related news clips or videos of interest.

William Paterson’s eCitizenship initiative has been strongly supported by our Provost. The adoption of a new general education program (University Core Curriculum) which boasts a 3-credit requirement in the area of “Civic and Community Engagement”  for all graduates has enlivened the institutional environment for all of ADP’s initiatives.

We have benefited from incorporating students through our student employment programs. We have hired three students to assist with program and office management as well as database management.  We have also utilized prize money to encourage student work in the are of graphic and web design.

We also built a student volunteer team for our Youth Vote (YV) 2k10 campaign which conducted “talks” in First Year Seminar classes and in three Paterson NJ area high schools.

The WPU Youth Vote 2K10 Team ("No Vote, No Piece!") visited with the students of Rosa Parks High School for the Performing Arts in Paterson NJ.

To learn more about William Paterson’s eCitizenship activities, please visit the following webpages:

William Paterson’s ADP Website

William Paterson’s Facebook Page

William Paterson’s Twitter Feed

Experience eRecruiting Network at Engage

William Paterson’s ADP New Jersey Community Engagement Map

State of the Student Union: Reclaiming Student Unions as Civic Spaces

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

What if there was a physical place on every college campus available for people to do public work? What if this place provided resources for students and university leaders to organize for positive change on campus and in their communities? What if this place educated students about civic life and engaged them in political activities?

Lately I have been thinking about the physical structures on university campuses and their various uses. Perhaps it’s because I am reading a book that criticizes many of the non-academic structures on campus (Higher Education? How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids). The argument in the book is that universities should be places for academic inquiry – not student recreation – and that university budgets should only allocate funds to structures and activities that reinforce education. While I believe there is some merit to this argument, I think that there is an important role for university student unions to play in fostering a healthier society and in educating informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. On far too many college campuses, though, student unions are only meeting the recreational needs of students and are doing very little – if anything – to enhance campus civic life.

I remember my early encounters with my first university’s Student Union (at Oregon State University). It houses a large emporium of food vendors, the student book store, a bowling alley, a recreation facility, and a ballroom with large, ancient couches. I spent a lot of time in the student union, usually studying or taking naps between classes, buying food or university merchandise, and – being in touch with my blue collar roots – bowling. I  was also able to attend many political events in the union and learn about civic opportunities in my community thanks to OSU’s dedication to using the union as a hub of civic life. The stated mission of OSU’s student union is below:

At the heart, our organization is about building community.  We believe that community contributes fundamentally to the quality of life of individuals and campus society.  We have a responsibility to create community that facilitates civic engagement and interaction.  The Memorial Union is an integration of three main units and goes about creating community in different ways: the Union through physical space, Student Leadership & Involvement through Events and Programs and Student Media through student run publications.  Within each of the three main units there are several subsections.

From what I learned during my limited research on the history of student unions on American colleges campuses, my civic experiences with the student union are somewhat unique. OSU’s student union falls in line with a long history of student unions whose primary purposes are to serve as recreational facilities for students.

The first American student union, Houston Hall, was established at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896 and was modeled after the University of Oxford’s Student Union. Houston Hall houses UPenn’s student government and, as is outlined in its constitution, “the object of Houston [Hall] is to draw together students, officers, and alumni of all Departments of the University in a wholesome social life, and to provide for them suitable amusements and recreations.” Indeed, the founders hoped that students would pass “their leisure hours in harmless recreation and amusement” (taken from UPenn’s website). Though Oxford’s Student Union was used as a model for Houston Hall, what is interesting about Houston Hall’s stated purpose is that it is somewhat of a departure from the foundational purposes of Oxford’s Student Union.

According to its website, Oxford’s Student Union can be traced back to the 13th Century and was created to help ease tensions between students of various nationalities who were fighting on campus. Such fighting at times resulted in student fatalities. The modern mission of Oxford’s Student Union is “to represent Oxford University students in the University’s decision-making, to act as the voice for students in the national higher education policy debate, and to provide direct services to the student body.” As you can see from reading its mission and visiting its website, Oxford’s Student Union pays close attention to civic life.  Since the establishment of the first student union at UPenn, almost every American university has followed suit and created student unions. Unfortunately, the original political and democratic purpose of Oxford’s Student Union is not often mimicked throughout this network of student unions.

Most American student unions are home to their Student Government Associations (SGA). Far too often, though, SGAs more closely resemble popularity contests than student-run democracy. In an ADP Blog post about student governments, Yasmin Karimian of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) wrote about her experience as student government president. In her blog post, Yasmin helps us think about a new role for student governments as agents and architects of democracy. The students at UMBC reformed the SGA into an organization on campus that works with students to solve community-based problems. To this end, Yasmin believes that “it is the time for student leaders to re-envision the function  of student governments across the nation. Imagine a world where we are all seen as creators of our own communities… Student governments could be the stepping stones to that world.” I couldn’t agree more. I believe that along with reforming student governments around the country, it is also time for university leaders to reclaim their student unions as civic spaces on campus. While I don’t believe that the recreational aspects of the student union should be totally abandoned, I do believe that we should use this space on campus to promote civic engagement.

How can we reclaim our student unions as civic spaces? Nancy Kranich, in her ADP Blog post about Academic Libraries as civic spaces, provides the rough outline for a road map about how this might be done. Arizona State University also offers an interesting example of how student unions may be used as hubs of civic life on campus. Students at ASU are working to “shape the mission and vision for the [Student] Union [as a] future hub for programs related to community service, service learning, AmeriCorps, high impact careers and social entrepreneurship.” Student unions could also serve as the hub of student leadership in civic engagement initiatives on campus.

Would you like to reclaim your Student Union as a civic space? Below are some ideas about how you might do this.

  • Meet with your SGA president and learn about his or her hopes and dreams for the space. Challenge the president to think about how the student union may be used not only to entertain students but to engage them in civic life.
  • Host student civic events in the union.
  • Work with the SGA to establish a Democracy Plaza in the union so students might engage in ongoing conversations about democracy and pressing issues of the day.
  • Host voter education and registration outreach activities in the food court.
  • Host a Community Outreach Resource Fair in the union that will allow students to learn about community engagement opportunities.
  • Establish a room in the student union devoted to public work and use this room for student training on community organizing and public work.
  • Host political debates in the union.
  • Host town halls and forums on important issues impacting your local community.
  • What else? Please use the comments section below to add your ideas about how we might reclaim student unions as civic spaces.
For us to be serious about preparing students as civic agents, it is important for us to leverage every resource on campus to this end. Harnessing the often untapped civic power of student unions is one way we might create an institutional culture that fosters student civic development.
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