On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, National Voter Registration Day, James Madison University officially launched it’s new James Madison Center for Civic Engagement.
The James Madison Center for Civic Engagement will provide critical support for the University’s efforts to be a national model for civic engagement and to advance the legacy of James Madison; ensure strategic visibility for the University’s civic engagement efforts; track and record curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular civic engagement activities; funnel data to and from different units on camps as a one-stop civic engagement resource center; and disseminate information broadly to both internal and external constituents.
More than 50 guests — faculty, staff and students — gathered in Madison Union to hear remarks from inaugural executive director and associate professor of political science Abe Goldberg; JMU president Jon Alger; ADP’s Jen Domagal-Goldman; the Center’s associate director, Bill Wilson; and student Samantha Cantrell from the student government association. Samantha and President Alger then registered a student to vote during the ceremony.
JMU has played an increasingly prominent role in our American Democracy Project and is being awarded one of AASCU’s three inaugural Civic Learning and Community Engagement Awards this fall. We look forward to continued collaborations with JMU and its new Center.
JMU and the new James Madison Center for Civic Engagement truly are Madison’s legacy. He was an ardent advocate for higher education and wrote in an 1822 letter, “Learned institutions throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty….What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable than that of liberty and learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support.”
Liberty and learning do indeed go hand-in-hand and we at ADP look forward to watching both flourish at JMU.
By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project
In the American Democracy Project, we believe that there is no more important public purpose for higher education than the preparation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. To this end, we are constantly seeking strategies that universities have used to fulfill their role as citizen educators. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Western Carolina University, campuses must find ways to institutionalize civic engagement programming in order to fulfill this public purpose. Institutionalization is of paramount importance because it provides every student on campus with opportunities to be educated and engaged as citizens. We use the term “institutional intentionality” to express this notion. Western Carolina demonstrated its commitment to institutionalizing civic education by incorporating Constitutional programming into a basic and required university function: the Quality Enhancement Plan. And many more of our campuses have been creative and bold in their design and institutionalization of on-campus programming.
One way a university can demonstrate its seriousness about institutionalizing civic engagement programming is through the establishment of a center that facilitates and connects the disparate civic engagement activities on campus. An effective civic engagement center can also perform a variety of functions that include (but are not limited to) conducting faculty development on community-based learning, linking interested students to community-based projects, convening the campus community for discussions about civic topics, facilitating equitable and effective community/university partnerships, providing programming for student civic leadership, and partnering with elected officials and community members to solve public problems.
Civic Engagement Centers Query
Mike McCullough is a professor of management at the University of Tennessee at Martin and is helping run a civic engagement center for his university. He’d like to learn more about other civic engagement centers. That’s where you come in. If your campus has a center that handles some of the activities I described above, or other functions I did not list, please take a moment to complete this brief, online survey so that we can better understand such centers. After the results are compiled, we will share a summary of the findings on the ADP Blog.
To complete this survey, please click this link.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete this survey. Your response will help us better understand this important strategy for institutionalizing civic engagement programming.