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Posts by American Democracy Project

What We’re Reading: eJournal of Public Affairs New Issue

The eJournal of Public Affairs, a collaboration between Missouri State University and ADP, recently released issue 2, Volume VI special issue on Civic Leadership for Social Justice. To read, visit Civic Leadership for Social Justice.

1.jpgCivic leadership centers inherently on creating conditions for groups of people to make progress on social, political, economic, and moral issues in ways that help them to more fully realize the requirements of justice. Justice, as it relates to leadership activity, “is the fair, equitable and impartial distribution of resources, opportunities and benefits of society to all of its members, regardless of position, place or other exclusionary criteria deemed unfair” (Johnson, 2008, p. 303). To read the full article, visit Why Civic Leadership for Social Justice?


Justice word written on a wooden block.The author argues that social justice is a topic that few in higher education oppose, but there are structural challenges for university faculty members and academic professionals engaging social justice issues. By exploring four dimensions of the university—institutional mission, academic scholarship, professional identity, and pedagogical approaches—the author argues for a rethinking of how we approach these dimensions of our work. Finally, the author identifies other fields of scholarship and practice that can help to address our must pressing public problems in which social justice issues at the center. To read the full article, visit The Politics of Knowledge: Challenges and Opportunities for Social Justice Work in Higher Education Institutions.

3.jpgThe case in this study, an initiative called, “Not Just A Year of Social Justice Education” (NJAY), was a practice in distributed and transformative leadership, community engagement, and informal social justice education. Included are reflections about the role of the university in developing socially just citizens, the process of collaboration community engagement for social justice, and the overt and covert role of leadership that must be both transformative and pragmatic. To read the full article, visit “Not Just a Year of Social Justice Education”: A university/community collaboration to enhance and support social justice.

4.jpgExploration of social justice issues need to be integrated into a person’s life. Development in the understanding of social justice cannot be done in one course or conversation on a college campus. This article describes how one institution of higher education in the United States focused on the creation and implementation of a Social Justice Living Learning Community. To read the full article, visit So Just Make a Difference: A Unique Approach to Leadership and Social Justice Education.

5.jpgPolitical quiescence among low-income Americans is well documented but its causes are not well understood. This study explored the hypothesis that a self-stigmatized identity in low-income individuals is associated with a reluctance to participate in democratic activity. We engaged in participant/observation at nine mealtimes to analyze the discourse of guests of our local community “soup kitchen” and also administered a survey to investigate their perceptions of the poor, their beliefs about causes of poverty, and their knowledge of the demographics of recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. To read the full article, visit Self-Stigmatizing Identity and Democratic Participation Among Low-Income Individuals.

6.jpgAll those who wish to embark on this journey or are already doing engaged work should be compelled to read Publicly Engaged Scholars: Next Generation Engagement and the Future of Higher Education. Readers will feel the urgent call to renew the civic purposes of higher education to bring about social change, strengthen democracy, and develop engaged citizens. For full book review, visit Imploring the Next Generation of Scholars.

7.jpg“How do we create real change? What have successful organizers done that works, and what doesn’t work? How can anyone get involved and make a difference?” In When We Fight, We Win!: Twenty-First Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World, co-author Greg Jobin-Leeds poses these powerful questions to frame an exploration of 21st-century social movements and to spotlight the often unsung individuals who work to effect change. By interviewing activists, leaders, organizers, and academics, Jobin-Leeds and AgitArte—an activist artist collective—situate contemporary movements by artistically representing and sharing stories tied to the history of struggle, building on ideas and visions of previous generations, and writing candidly of victories, failures, and dreams. The book serves simultaneously as a guide offering tips to current or aspiring activists, an informative and inclusive history of grassroots movements, and a vivid depiction of individual stories and experiences centering on transformative organizing. For full book review, visit When We Fight, We Win!



8.jpgDeliberative dialogues build on the theory that democracy requires citizens to engage in ongoing deliberation on public matters. The program builds on the idea that it is our communities and discourse that are the foundations for civic renewal. To read the full article, visit Deliberation: An Introduction.

Darrell Hamlin, associate professor of criminal justice at Fort Hays State University, explores the relationship between police and demonstrators to raise deeper questions about democratic life in an atmosphere of provocative change in the United States and around the globe. Hamlin considers several trends: growing political unrest; governments that are more confrontational with interest groups and political factions; and increasingly aggressive and militarized policing tactics deployed to handle agitated crowds. Trained in democratic theory and civic engagement, but serving criminal justice students in the university classroom, Hamlin brings both sides of the story—the crowds and the cops—into this TEDx Talk delivered in April of 2015. In this challenging civic moment, democracy faces two choices, Hamlin suggests: “We can invest in technology to disperse crowds, or we can invest in something that speaks to whatever is causing the crowds to gather.” To read the full article, visit Cops and Crowds.

#CLDE17: Three Half-Day Pre-conference Workshops the Morning of June 7, 2017


During the 2017 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting, there are a variety of pre-conference sessions geared toward honing in on our civic skills. On Wednesday, June 7th, there are three morning pre-cons exploring assessment, engaged scholarship, and dialogue and deliberation training.

Check out the session descriptions below and be sure to register by May 1st for our early-bird rates.

Half-day Morning Pre-conference Workshops
Price: $65/person
Wednesday, June 7 | 9:00 a.m. – Noon

  • Planning for Institution-Wide Data Collection on Civic and Community Engagement
    Most campuses are eager to answer the question “How are the students, faculty, and staff on campus working to address civic issues and public problems?” We will explore this question in this workshop by reviewing a range of strategies to assess community-engaged activities (i.e., curricular, co-curricular, or project-based activities that are done in partnership with the community). In addition to these many strategies, institutions also often approach assessment with a variety of lenses including assessment and evaluation of community outcomes, student outcomes, partnership assessment and faculty/staff engagement among others. In practice, campuses confront an array of challenges to align these approaches into a comprehensive data collection framework and infrastructure. This session will give participants tools, strategies, and information to design, initiate and/or enhance systematic mechanisms for monitoring and auditing community-engaged activities across your institution.
    Organizers: H. Anne Weiss, Director of Assessment, Indiana Campus Compact and Assessment Specialist in Community Engagement, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and Ross Markle, Senior Research & Assessment Director, Global Higher Education Division, ETS


  • Measures That Matter: Regarding Engaged Scholarship In Tenure and Promotion
    Many higher education institutions have faculty involved in community engaged scholarship but lack strategies for assessing the quality of this work for promotion and tenure or contract renewal. Engaged scholars do not know how to make the case that their work is scholarship and personnel committees do not know how to evaluate non-traditional, engaged scholarship. A knowledge gap exists related to criteria that might be held up against engaged scholarship projects to assess quality and impact. The purpose of this pre-conference workshop is to share specific reforms that can be put in place to define, assess, document, and reward community engaged scholarship. The presenter will share promotion and tenure language that has already been put in place at other institutions and then suggest four criteria that could be used to assess engaged scholarship portfolios.
    Organizer: KerryAnn O’Meara, Professor of Higher Education, Director of UMD ADVANCE, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Dialogue and Democratic Deliberation: Moderator Training

    NIF Safety & Justice cover.jpgIn preparation for the Friday plenary session, Democratic Deliberation on Safety and Justice, we invite conference participants to this pre-conference institute for an introduction to democratic deliberation and moderator skills. During this session, participants examine democratic dialogue and deliberation while learning the skills and roles of active and engaged moderation.

    Organizers: Kara Lindaman, Professor of Political Science, Winona State University (Minn.); John Dedrick, Vice-President, Kettering Foundation; William Muse, President Emeritus, National Issues Forum Institute; and John J. Theis, Executive Director, Center for Civic Engagement, Lone Star College (Texas)

In order to promote forums on this issue for the Kettering Foundation’s annual report to policymakers in Washington DC,  National Issues Forum Institute (NIFI) is making the PDF of this issue guide FREE to download for anyone convening forums from January 1, 2017 – May 9, 2017. If you hold a forum using the free materials, please submit a moderator report and have the forum participants complete the post-forum questionnaire to ensure the insights from your community are captured in the report. More information about this opportunity can be found on the National Issue Forums website.

Be sure to register by May 1st for our best rates and book your hotel room by May 16 at our special group rate!

#CLDE17: Three Half-Day Pre-conference Workshops the Afternoon of June 7, 2017

During the 2017 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting, there are a variety of pre-conference sessions providing opportunities to hone in on our civic skills. On Wednesday, June 7th, consider attending one of the afternoon pre-cons geared toward measuring civic outcomes, educating for democracy, curriculum integration of civic responsibility, and a special civic workshop solely for students.

Check out the session descriptions below and be sure to register by May 1st for our early-bird rates.

Half-day Afternoon Pre-conference Workshops
Price: $65/person
Wednesday, June 7 | 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

  • Measuring Civic Outcomes During College

Organizers: H. Anne Weiss, Director of Assessment, Indiana Campus Compact and Assessment Specialist in Community Engagement, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and Ross Markle, Senior Research & Assessment Director, Global Higher Education Division, ETS

As institutions implement high impact practices across their campuses, learning outcomes, curricular and co-curricular activities, and assessment tools can often become disjointed. This workshop will guide attendees through a concentrated, cooperative process of unpacking and measuring civic outcomes such as civic identity, working with others to solve wicked problems, civic mindedness, and being an agent for social change. Ultimately, participants will articulate the alignment (and in some cases, mismatch) between outcomes, interventions, and assessment methods. Attendees should come with a specific program or course in mind and consider bringing a colleague with whom you can brainstorm transdisciplinary assessment practices. Transdisciplinary assessment means that faculty and staff from different disciplines or units on campus work jointly to develop new or innovative measurement practices from which informed decisions can be made to improve practices surrounding students’ civic learning and democratic engagement during college. Attendees will be introduced to the plethora of measurement tools that purport to assess students’ civic learning and development, such as: AAC&U VALUE Rubrics, Civic Minded Graduate Rubric 2.0, campus-wide survey instruments (ETS Civic Competency and Engagement, NSSE, CIRP Surveys, PRSI, etc.), and a host of other pre to post and retrospective pre to post scales such as social dominance orientation, belief in a just world, or the Interpersonal Reactivity Index. After this facilitated discussion, participants will have a chance to apply certain tools to student artifacts such as essays, digital stories, and eportfolios. Applying the tools to artifacts will allow for participants to evaluate and synthesize their plans for assessing student civic learning and development as it relates to participating in high impact practices during college.  

  • Educating for the Democracy We Want, Not the One We Have

Organizers: Nancy Thomas, Director, and Ishara Casellas Connors, Associate Director, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), Jonathan M. Tisch College for Civic Life at Tufts University (Mass.)  

After a long and contentious presidential election season, the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the U.S. stunned faculty, administrators, and students. University presidents issued post-election statements calling for a wide range of responses ranging from tolerance and understanding to vigilance and the protection of democratic principles. Many academics chastised themselves for not making conservative perspectives on campus more visible prior to the election. Others felt they had not done enough to demand truth and statements about public controversies based on facts. National elections represent a teachable moment in college student learning. Over the past two years, the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University has been studying campus climates – the norms, structures, behaviors, and attitudes – for political learning and engagement in democracy. From that research, we’ve identified several attributes of campus climates that may be conducive to political learning for all students, not just a few. Using resources developed by IDHE, workshop participants will have an opportunity to examine what worked and what did not work on their campuses during the 2016 election season. Participants will also examine their political climates beyond election seasons, with particular attention to areas for growth. Participants will leave with new tools, language, and perspectives for educating the next generation of politically engaged students in the context of the current national and regional political landscape in the U.S.

  • Integrating Civic Responsibility into the Curriculum

Organizers: Gail Robinson, Education Consultant; Duane Oakes, Faculty Director, Center for Community & Civic Engagement, Mesa Community College (Ariz.); Emily Morrison, Assistant Professor, Sociology, and Director, Human Services and Social Justice Program, George Washington University (DC.); and Cathy Doyle, Director, Sarbanes Center for Public and Community Service, Anne Arundel Community College (Md.)

Community engagement and academic learning are central to higher education’s mission. Explore ways to help faculty, staff, and administrators prepare students for effective involvement in a diverse democratic society, and examine the role and obligation of higher education to produce good citizens. This interactive workshop features hands-on activities that include looking at service learning from charity and social justice perspectives; identifying appropriate reflection activities; analyzing course syllabi for elements of civic responsibility and civic engagement; reviewing syllabi from the perspectives of students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community partners; and integrating purposeful civic learning strategies into college courses.

Student Pre-Conference Workshop
For undergraduate students only and FREE!!

Organized by the 2017 CLDE Student Interns: Amber Austin, student, Tarrant County College (Texas); Tyler Ferrari, student, Chapman University (Calif.); and Christina Melecio, student, Winona State University (Minn.)  

This workshop will introduce students to #CLDEStuds17 that will provide a space to discuss issues that focus on being an active participant in the local and national communities, and will give students the tools to be effective activists in their communities. These open discussions will be held in large and small groups to effectively dissect the topics being discussed. To thoroughly accomplish our goals at the conference we hope that our peers come with open minds, and thoughtful ideas to contribute to discussions not only at this conference, but at home with their peers. There will be additional information closer to the conference for those who register. We hope to engage our attendees with new, and exciting, information that can further reach students across the nation, and actively enhance the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement initiatives.

Be sure to register by May 1st for our best rates and book your hotel room by May 16 at our special group rate!

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