By Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project
Five hundred and eighty-five faculty members, students, administrators and representatives from our national partner organizations gathered in Denver, Colorado for the third ADP/TDC Joint National Meeting (and ADP’s 11th annual meeting), June 6-8, 2013. The theme of the meeting was “21st Century Citizens: Building Bridges, Solving Problems.” Representatives from nearly 100 four-year colleges and universities and 40 community colleges attended the event. One hundred and forty-five students attended the conference (compared to 95 last year). This was by far our most successful ADP National Meeting to date.
Comments from National Meeting attendees:
- “The ADP conference is, hands-down, my favorite conference of the year. It is a terrific place to share ideas in a friendly, collaborative setting.”
- “The whole conference was beautifully run, every plenary was enlightening and engaging. The sessions brought to light many different ideas, issues, challenges and gave our institution a lot to consider as we move forward with ideas of civic engagement on our campus.”
- “Honestly it felt like a constant barrage of empowerment and possibility…. Hearing the concepts which are driving this conference gave me, as a first time attendee, a hope which I have only felt on a few occasions.”
- “This was a very stimulating conference, and the diversity in attendance brings many good ideas but also a tremendously varied menu of how to implement ideas and make things happen!”
We kicked off the national meeting with pre-conference meetings and workshops on Thursday, June 6. Metropolitan State University of Denver, an ADP campus, hosted our first ever campus site-visit for conference attendees. Meeting participants were also able to attend workshops hosted by ADP’s Civic Health, eCitizenship, Stewardship of Public Lands and Global Engagement initiatives and it’s Political Engagement Project. Other meetings and workshops were hosted by The Democracy Commitment, the Kettering Foundation, Citizen Alum, the eJournal of Public Affairs, Public Achievement, Community Learning Partnership, Street Law, AAC&U’s Bridging Cultures grant program, AASCU faculty participating in our Urban Civic Minor grant project and AASCU’s Grants Resource Center.
Thursday afternoon’s opening plenary included welcome remarks from George Mehaffy and TDC’s Bernie
Ronan. Steven Jordan, president of Metropolitan State University of Denver, welcomed the large group to his city, followed by Melia Tagovailova – a recent Metro State graduate – who sang a beautiful and stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Metro State’s Chicano Studies performance group Journey Through Our Heritage burst on to the stage to share with us a story of protest and personal reflection. We then heard keynote speaker Denise Fairchild – President & CEO, Emerald Cities Collaborative – talk to us about “getting on the bus” of social change (Listen to her plenary talk.) She discussed the importance of civic engagement in the sustainability movement, and how informed and engaged Millennials will be the movers of shakers we need to create lasting change; all we have to do is give them the tools, skills, and the information.
We began the day Friday with a series of early, but energizing breakfast sessions. Participants heard from national ADP/TDC partner organizations including: Community Learning Partnership, GiveGab, Echoing Green, Street Law, the eJournal of Public Affairs, NCoC, the National Issues Forums Institute, and The Foundation for Democracy in Africa.
Peter Levine, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and Director of CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, provided Friday’s plenary talk: A Defense of Higher Education and its Civic Mission (you can also listen to it here).
Following Peter’s talk, we announced the 2013 winners of the Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement (see blog post) and the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement (see blog post). Fresno State Provost William A. Covino was awarded AASCU’s 2013 William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement and Brandon Kliewer, Assistant Professor of Civic Engagement and ADP campus director at Florida Gulf Coast University, received the Saltmarsh Award.
After the morning plenary session, we broke into a series of featured and concurrent sessions. Friday’s Featured Sessions included panels on Purposeful Work: Educating for Citizen Careers, and Civic Pathways: Community College to University Transfer Programs; workshops about Preparing for the 2015 Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement and CIRCLE’s National Study of Student Learning, Voting & Engagement. There were also sessions about programs including The Human Library and ADP’s Global Challenges curriculum. Student presentations included one by SWER: Students Working for Equal Rights and another on multi-campus presentation on “Tweeting in Class!” Student Microblogging & Civic Practice. Three separate presentations constituted a featured session on Civic Learning in the Curriculum & Dialogue and Deliberation.
Throughout the day we successfully experimented with new session types including short Lightning Round presentations clustered by topic, a more dynamic poster session, and panels and workshops. This year’s Poster Session had 12 submissions. Posters were presented by students as well as faculty and staff. The posters highlighted results of various research projects on topics including hunger, voting, veterans on campus, gender identity, and global engagement.
Saturday brought a morning plenary session dedicated to the four student ADP/TDC video contest winners. In
a panel moderated by Monroe Community College’s Verdis Robinson, Instructor of History and African-American Studies, ADP students Bianca Brown of Western Kentucky University and Rachel Wintz of the University of Alaska Anchorage spoke of their civic engagement journeys alongside TDC’s Justin Machelski of Delta College (Mich.) and Quinta Tangoh of Ohio’s Cuyahoga Community College.
Afterwards, meeting attendees were treated to another vast array of panels, workshops and other sessions including our annual Campus and Friends Showcase – an opportunity for our campuses and partner organizations to share their work and network with one another. More than 18 campuses and partner organizations hosted showcase tables this year. Attendees were also able to participate in roundtable discussions about a variety of topics on Saturday afternoon.
At the end of the day on Saturday, meeting attendees reconvened for a closing plenary featuring David Scobey, Executive Dean, The New School for Public Engagement (N.Y.). Scobey spoke about Post-Traditional Undergraduates and the Copernican Moment: New Models of Engaged Learning for the New Majority Student (listen here).
Afterwards, we celebrated the end of the conference with a closing reception at The Tavern, complete with dancing, a photo booth and a rooftop view of Denver.
It was an absolute honor to be surrounded by so many people who are passionate about and engaged in the struggle to protect and improve our democracy. ADP continues to be one of the most successful and dynamic civic engagement projects in the country thanks in large part to the tireless dedication of the dynamic individuals gathered in Denver.
We hope to see you in Louisville, Kentucky, June 5-7, 2014, for the next ADP/TDC National Meeting where we will continue our important work of preparing informed, engaged citizens for our democracy.
PowerPoints and other handouts from the meeting are available through the meeting’s mobile app for the next year.