ADP 2012: Closing Plenary to feature CSU Chico’s Public Sphere Pedagogy
ADP considers California State University Chico’s Public Sphere Pedagogy (PSP) to be a signature pedagogy of civic engagement. During the closing plenary session at the ADP 2012 National Meeting, CSU Chico will be presenting on public sphere pedagogy, in general, while focusing particularly on Chico Town Hall and the Chico Great Debate as two examples of PSP.
Saturday, June 9 | 4:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Closing Plenary: Going Public—Aligning Classroom Pedagogy with Institutional Commitments to Civic Engagement
Many AASCU-member universities stress regional, civic engagement as a key strategic priority. Yet translating that priority to the classroom via faculty teaching practices can be challenging. This session provides participants with an overview of an innovative teaching approach that improves students’ civic dispositions and retention. The approach, Public Sphere Pedagogy (PSP), embeds a tailored public arena in varied courses to permit discussion of students’ research, questions and concerns about contemporary issues. Faculty, staff, administrators and community members act as dialogue partners with students, helping all participants to move their thinking and their plans for civic action forward. At CSU, Chico, PSP has broad faculty appeal and is used in disciplinary areas as varied as political science, communication studies, economics and English to improve students’ engagement with subject matter learning, assist students’ construction of civic dispositions, and increase students’ persistence to graduation. This session includes both a set of models of embedded public spheres (e.g., a student-led Town Hall, a “Great Debate” and a multi-media festival where students present and discuss their work) and tools for developing PSP approaches on participants’ home campuses.
Introducer: Jocelyn Lee Payne, Assistant Professor of Education, Northeastern State University – Broken Arrow (Okla.)
Presenters: Thia Wolf, First-Year Experience Director and a Professor of English Studies; Ellie Clifford Ertle, Lecturer of Political Science and Faculty Coordinator for the Town Hall Meeting Program; Zach Justus, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences; and William Loker, Dean of Undergraduate Education, California State University, Chico.
The CSU, Chico Town Hall Meeting
The First-Year Experience Program sponsors a large-scale, student-led event once each semester. The CSU, Chico Town Hall brings students, faculty, staff, administrators and community members together in the BMU auditorium for reflection on questions of current public interest. In fall ’08, for instance, the Town Hall focused on the question: “What matters in the November 2008 election?”
Participants move from the auditorium to smaller break-out rooms where roundtable discussions on issues students have researched take center stage. Students and other interested participants share information, questions, concerns and insights about subjects as diverse as global warming, hate crimes, and the state of the economy.
Students conclude the evening in small discussion groups with members of the campus and community serving as consultants to help them take next steps in their research and in their plans for civic action.
Assessments of student learning and attitudes in classes that embed the Town Hall indicate that students become more engaged scholars and gain confidence about their capacity to do meaningful work at the university when they have this opportunity to share their research in public dialogues with interested others.
The Chico Great Debate
The purpose of the Chico Great Debate is to bring together members of the campus and community to investigate and engage in dialogue around a “hot topic” that has the potential to divide us. The day of presentations and debates stresses active listening, respectful exchange, and collaborative civic learning through civil discourse. For the first time, we have added a community-member storytelling component.
Throughout the day, students from various Communication Studies classes give presentations and conduct debates focused on a chosen “hot topic.” In the evening, at 6:30, there is a formal debate by CSU, Chico Debate Team members and stakeholder Community Members.
Check out the Great Debate’s Facebook page.