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ADP joins American Commonwealth Partnership focused on Civic Mission of Higher Education

The American Democracy Project is proud to join the American Commonwealth Partnership, a collaborative national effort to advance the civic mission of higher education. In the guest blog post below, longtime ADP partner and civic learning and democratic engagement advocate Harry Boyte describes the initial partners, goals and efforts of this partnership.

I encourage American Democracy Project students, faculty, staff and community partners to consider submitting short videos or ideas for guest blog posts for the social media campaign that Harry outlines below. I’d love to see ADP efforts spotlighted in this endeavor to ensure that higher education is preparing informed, engaged citizens for our democracy and embracing our role as stewards of place. Please email me directly at with any materials you’d like me to pass on to the new DemocracyU website that will be launched next week as part of these collaborative efforts.

All my best,


Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project

American Commonwealth Partnership For Democracy’s Future: A Coordinated Effort to Reclaim the Civic Mission of Higher Education

By Harry Boyte, Director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship

American colleges and universities attract millions of students from across the world. As Anthony Grafton writes in New York Review of Books (11/24/11), “at every level…dedicated professors are setting students on fire with enthusiasm for everything from the structure of crystals to the structure of poems.” Yet Grafton’s review of recent books with titles like Academically Adrift and Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given up on the Meaning of Life, also tells a sobering tale. These books detail declines in teaching, detachment from communities, and re-branding of higher education as a ticket to private wealth not public contribution. “The hordes of forgotten students who leave the university…uninspired by their courses, wounded in many cases by what they experience as their own failures, weighed down by their debts, need to be seen and heard.”

On January 10th, the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP) will hear these students. ACP is a broad alliance of higher education, P-12 schools and educational groups, philanthropies, businesses and others, part of a coordinated effort with the White House Office of Public Engagement, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the Department of Education, to begin a year of activity called, “For Democracy’s Future – Reclaiming Our Civic Mission.” ACP’s role is to “deepen the civic identity” of educational institutions, moving engagement from activities to strong commitments to education as a public good.

The American Commonwealth Partnership, launched on September 7th in New York at a meeting hosted by Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Syracuse University, grows out of the American Democracy Project, as well as work with the National Conference on Citizenship, The Democracy Commitment among community colleges, Campus Compact, Imagining America, NERCHE, the Anchoring Institutions Task Force and other engagement efforts. It stresses the role of colleges and universities as stewards of place and anchoring institutions within diverse local ecologies of civic learning. ACP was organized over the past six months by Harry Boyte working with Cantor and other presidents, including Brian Murphy, President of De Anza College, M. Christopher Brown, President of Alcorn State University, Tom Ehrlich, President Emeritus of Indiana University, Freeman Hrabowski, President of UMBC, Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg College, and Judith Ramaley, President of Winona State University. It is coordinated by the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, a long time partner with ADP in its Civic Agency Initiative.

The launch will showcase “champions of change” across higher education and among P-12 partners, including leaders in Public Achievement, a youth civic empowerment initiative, from Western Kentucky University and Northern Arizona University. The launch will also release a report, Crucible Moment – Civic Learning and Democracy’s Future, which AAC&U and its advisors have prepared for the Department of Education. The report calls for civic learning to become a “pervasive ethos,” not a marginal activity.  ACP activities will unfold in the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act which created land-grant institutions, once “democracy colleges.” ACP champions the democracy spirit for all of education. Three initiatives are already underway:

Social Media Campaign:  Working with JumpStart Productions, producer of NOW on PBS, ACP is developing a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, beginning December 7th, with the DemocracyU website on CIRCLE, the youth civic research center. ACP will sponsor a national competition of student/faculty-produced short (5-min) videos, each profiling a civic initiative. Coaching for video teams will be provided using an interface on YouTube. Finalists will be chosen by a distinguished panel, and online voting will determine the winner. ACP will leverage connections made through the project to cultivate vigorous dialogue on its website and through social media platforms. The social media will also support the deliberative dialogue campaign.

National Deliberative Dialogues: ACP will organize deliberative dialogues in partnership with the National Issues Forums and the Kettering Foundation on higher education’s role in American society, building on research by Public Agenda, about public opinion on higher education. The deliberative process will include an easy to use toolkit; online and onsite training and work with schools and associations in advance; a designated time period in Spring 2012 for discussions, and many ways to report back the results to the nation.

Civic Science and STEM Education: Planning is underway with the Delta Center at the University of Iowa, Molly Jahn with the College of Life and Agricultural Sciences at U-WISC and former deputy undersecretary for education at USDA, and Joel Thierstein, Senior Advisor on STEM initiatives at DoED, for a Civic Science STEM initiative, promoting curricular and co-curricular reform that combines STEM and civic agency education.

For a more detailed description of the goals, aims and contexts of the American Commonwealth Partnership, take a look at this Word document: For Democracy’s Future Star Diagram.

Communications Conference with Civic Literacy and Engagement Themes

Illinois State University, an AASCU institution and active ADP campus, is co-sponsoring a colloquium on communication research August 7-8, 2012 at DePaul University in Chicago. The theme of the conference is Communication and Community Engagement and papers are sought that link communication theory and research to community engagement and eCitizenship themes including information literacy and social media usage. Papers are due February 1, 2012.

Jen Domagal-Goldman, ADP National Manager

5th Brazil-U.S. Colloquium on Communication Research

(V Colóquio Brasil – Estados Unidos de Estudos da Comunicação)

CONFERENCE: Dr. Sonia Virgínia Moreira of INTERCOM—the Brazilian Society of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication, the School of Communication at Illinois State University (Dr. John Baldwin) and the College of Communication at DePaul University (Dr. Jacqueline Taylor) invite you to submit completed papers to the 5th Brazil-U.S. Colloquium on Communication Research. The deadline for receipt of completed papers is February 1, 2012.

CONFERENCE OBJECTIVES: The purpose of the Colloquium is to bring together Brazilian and United States researchers who work in the field of communication in order to discuss current topics in theory, method, and community engagement. More specifically, this conference aspires to foster a dynamic and intellectually stimulating dialogue between communication scholars from both countries—encouraging the participation and exchange of communication professors and students —and promoting the production of comparative analyses and joint projects related to on-going debates in communication research.

WHEN and WHERE: The biennial conference will take place at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.. Papers will be presented in English or Portuguese (translation available as necessary). The conference will be August 7-8, 2012.

CONFERENCE TOPIC: The central conference theme is Communication and Community Engagement. Following are some suggested thematic areas:

1.   Communication Research and Community Engagement: Linking theory and research to community efforts, growth and change.  (Engagamento social da comunicação e a pesquisa)

2.   Media Literacy and Critical Inquiry: Providing critical tools for analysis, assessment and production of media content. Using media literacy to enhance community leadership and development. Transforming media consumption into an active process, and using independent media for active citizenship. (Educação para a leitura crítica da mídia)

3.   Social, Interactive, and Participatory Media: Researching the effect of Internet use on public and social life. Focus on social networking sites—such as Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, etc—and community engagement in social media across cultures and borders.

4.   F2F Communication: Including studies on interpersonal (persuasion, message production and reception, nonverbal communication, organizational/small-group, communication among cultural, age-based, or other social groups), or relational communication.

5.   Public Relations and Commercial Media: Including studies on advertising, marketing and communication.

NOTE: Papers in any session may include comparisons between communication issues both in Brazil and the U.S., but may also analyze an issue related to a singular country.  We encourage theme-related papers but will consider all submissions.

Each session will have a coordinator with two to four papers, with discussion


Paper Requirements

  • Submission of proposals to the National Colloquium Coordinator
  • Indication of the thematic group desired (if any)
  • Summary of paper (250 words maximum
  • Complete paper (6.000 words maximum, Times New Roman, 12-pt font)
  • Hold at least a Master’s Degree
  • Brief CV (100 words maximum)

Where to submit papers:

American participants – send by email to: John R. Baldwin –

Participantes brasileiros – inscrição pelo website do congresso em

The White House’s Campus Champions of Change Challenge

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

The White House Office of Public Engagement and mtvU are sponsoring the first ever Campus “Champions of Change” (CCC) Challenge, and I want to encourage each of our American Democracy Project (ADP) campuses to submit an application!

This new program is intended to highlight stories and examples of how college students are representing President Obama’s vision for “out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world through projects and initiatives that move their communities forward.” Examples might include campus sustainability programs, campus-community partnerships, voter registration drives, etc.

The CCC Challenge “invites college and university students from across the country to demonstrate how their student led project is improving their campus community and helping America win the future.” Five finalists will be named and honored at the White House. The finalists will also work with mtvU and MTV Act to create short video features about their projects that will be featured on The winning team will host an episode of mtvU’s program, “The Dean’s List.”

The process:

  • Complete the online application detailing your student-led program at
  • The White House will select 15 finalists based on input from a panel of judges.
  • The public will then have an opportunity to weigh in and vote on the top five projects they think best embody the President’s goal to win the future.
  • Submissions are due by Friday, December 9, 2011.

To find out more about the CCC Challenge, follow this link.

Call for Proposals: 10th Annual ADP National Meeting, June 7-9, 2012, San Antonio

This is the Call for Proposals for the American Democracy Project (ADP) National Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 7-9, 2012.

Proposals are due Monday, March 12, 2012, and are accepted on a rolling basis beginning November 15, 2011. Notifications will be made by Monday, March 26, 2012.

By Jen Domagal-Goldman, ADP National Manager

ADP Logo

Please join us in San Antonio, Texas for our 10th Annual American Democracy Project (ADP) National Meeting at the Marriott Rivercenter. The meeting begins on Thursday, June 7 and ends with a dinner Saturday evening, June 9. We have negotiated a hotel room rate of $185 for a single/double plus 16.75% tax (subject to change) at the Marriott Rivercenter. Conference registration fees are $395 for students and $545 for individuals. Institutions may wish to take advantage of our team rate of $485 per person.

Registration will open in a few weeks; more information about the national meeting, including deadlines for registration and information regarding how to register and when and how to book hotel rooms will be forthcoming.

The theme for this year’s meeting is: Civic Engagement 2.0: Re-Imagining, Strengthening and Deepening  Our Civic Work. In a recent ADP blog post, I described the ADP 2.0 efforts that Curt Brungardt, Director of the Center for Civic Leadership, and his colleagues are undertaking at Fort Hays State University (Kan.). Inspired by web 2.0 applications (e.g., social media, blogs, Wikis) that are not only the next iteration of an existing application, but also facilitate collaboration, information sharing, and user-centered design, Curt and his colleagues are considering the following questions during a year-long continuous improvement exercise:

In a year-long continuous improvement exercise, students, faculty, and staff are going to focus on a number of key questions.  For example:

  • Are we doing the right things to develop citizenship?
  • Are we doing them effectively?
  • How can we improve our student and staff programming?
  • Do our program activities produce the desired outcomes?

Our 10th national meeting will be a space for us to re-imagine, strengthen and deepen our civic work in ways that move the preparation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy from margin to center on our campuses. As we celebrate the American Democracy Project’s 10th birthday, let’s envision our next 10 years together!

Civic Engagement 2.0 presentations might consider questions such as:

  • How can we make existing civic education and engagement efforts more student and citizen-centered?
  • What can we do to make ADP more interactive, participative and discovery driven?
  • How can we harness new technologies to engage more students and/or to make our teaching and programming more effective?

THIS IS A CALL FOR PROPOSALS. We are interested in presentations that address both theoretical and practical issues: concepts of citizenship, civic engagement and democracy in higher education and in successful programs, partnerships and practices. When submitting proposals about programs, partnerships and practices, please be sure that you address analysis as well as description: what worked and what didn’t; what were the issues encountered during implementation; how was a partnership established; etc. We are particularly interested in topics that focus specifically on institutionalizing citizen preparation, civic learning, and engagement. This is not a traditional academic conference. We are interested in sessions that go beyond merely presenting a set of activities and instead describe step-by-step strategies for driving civic engagement work deeper into the heart of the higher education enterprise.

We are seeking Presenters for concurrent panel sessions and workshops and for a poster session. To submit a proposal for a presentation or poster:

1. Review the Suggested List of Topics for Presentations & Posters at ADP 2012.

2. Review the SAMPLE Presentation_ Proposal _Submission_ Form,_ ADP _National_Meeting_2012.

3. Complete this Online Proposal Submission Form

Presentation sessions are 1 hour and 15 minutes in length, with a moderator/time keeper and approximately 3 presentations. Individual presentations should not exceed 10 minutes. Handouts are encouraged. LCD projectors for PowerPoint presentations will be available.

This year we’re adding a poster session to the program. This is a great way for students to participate in the conference and a way to showcase a program, initiative, partnership, or undergraduate research or service project. During the poster session, all poster presenters will have the opportunity to talk with and answer questions of conference participants about their posters. Posters should be on standard 24″x36″ foam core board (easel size) and must be brought with presenters to the conference.

Please note: If you submit a presentation in which you are the sole presenter and your proposal is accepted, your presentation will be placed in a concurrent session with other presentations on a similar topic. If you would like to link your presentation to another proposal(s) (from your institution, from colleagues at other institutions, community partners, etc.), please note this in the online proposal form.

Once you submit a proposal, you are agreeing to present during any of the time slots allotted during the June 7-9, 2012 program. We will notify you of your exact presentation time not later than Monday, March 26th, 2012.

The purpose of these sessions is to allow a substantial number of strategies and ideas to be presented in a short period of time, leaving time in each session for questions, discussion and dialogue.

Proposals are due by March 12, 2012. However, proposals can be submitted immediately. We use a rolling acceptance process, which means that proposals will be evaluated and decisions made weekly, so the earlier the submission, the sooner you will know if your proposal has been accepted. This early acceptance process may provide you with an opportunity to identify a source of funding support sooner, as well as to help clarify your summer plans.

If you have any questions about the submission process, please contact Jen Domagal-Goldman at 202.478.7833 or

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