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Posts tagged ‘Civic Minors’

Student Spotlight: CSU Fresno’s Elizabeth Olenchalk

California State University, Fresno junior Elizabeth Olenchalk was named a 2014 Newman Civic Fellow in recognition of her commitment to community service and civic leadership.

Elizabeth is a Liberal Studies major and her minor in Urban Civic Education was developed as part of AASCU’s five-campus, Learn and Serve America grant-funded program to develop civic minors in urban education (learn more here). Olenchalk hopes to become “a change agent who addresses community issues.” Read more.

Buffalo State’s Critical Youth Advocacy Learning Community

Buffalo State College is part of AASCU’s Civic Minor in Urban Education grant program. Check out this story about their undergraduate learning community: Critical Youth Advocacy.

Re-blogged from: Students Promote Civic Engagement | News and Events | Buffalo State.

Students Promote Civic Engagement

Posted: November 16, 2012

Buffalo State was one of only five schools in the country in fall 2010 to receive a grant to implement a minor in civic urban education from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Buffalo State had to meet four criteria to receive the grant: belong to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, offer a major in education, be located in an urban area, and provide service learning opportunities. After receiving the grant, Amitra Wall, associate professor of sociology, and Kathy Wood, associate dean of the School of Education, began putting the details of the minor together.

“We want to get our students involved in the community,” Wall said. “Our students will serve as coaches by going into classrooms and working with the youth, who will learn that young people can positively impact their host institution, surrounding community, and society in general.”

Freshmen students have the chance to take part in civic urban education as a part of the Critical Youth Advocacy learning community that Wall and Wood created. The 17 students in this learning community will work with students from School 30 in Buffalo, who will be rallying around the notion of preventing bullying both in and out of school.

The students in the learning community recently had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. “They interacted with policy makers at the Department of Education, listened to Dr. Vanessa Siddle Walker during the Brown Lecture Series, and toured the White House,” Wall said.

After completing the learning community, the students will not only have completed 6 credits but also learned lifelong skills. “Working with people who are diverse and learning how to bring them together is a skill that one can’t learn through a textbook,” she said.

Buffalo State students will work with students in grades five to 12, who will identify a problem, come up with projects to solve it, and talk to someone who has the authority and power to help implement the solution. The youth will learn how they could make an impact on real problems in their school or community while learning the basic concepts of citizenship, democracy, and public work.

Through this project, the Buffalo State students will learn about topics regarding urban schools, community organizing, public education, and poverty in the cities. “They will use the public achievement model and the organizing principle to prepare them to be engaged and involved in the community,” Wall said.

“They’re learning how to present themselves to people in power and how to raise and keep public awareness of an issue,” Wall said. “The students might not get the change that they want, but the fact that they will act is what is key.”

Fresno State’s Minor in Urban Civic Engagement

Taken from the official press release.

(October 23, 2012) – Fresno State will graduate three students in December with a new Urban Civic Education minor designed to prepare leaders to address community issues.

The program is an outgrowth of a $50,000 grant from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Fresno State was one of five universities in the United States to receive the grant.

Another 10 Fresno State students will graduate in May with the minor, said Dr. Steven Hart, an assistant professor of literacy and early childhood education in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.

The interdisciplinary minor is available to all students in any academic discipline and is especially complementary for the work of students pursuing careers in education, psychology, criminal justice, social services, international affairs and community advocacy, said Hart, the program coordinator.

Hart said there are two goals in mind for the students:

  • Understanding social, economic and cultural aspects of the community and their impact on residents.
  • Developing organizational and leadership skills to help address substantive issues facing local communities and global society.

Emphasis is on service-learning experiences and instructional methods. The Urban Civic Education minor provides an interdisciplinary perspective to studying diverse urban cultural communities, issues challenging them and cultural and community influences on urban children’s education.

“With service learning, we connect academics with the community as students are actively engaged with hands-on, real-world experience,” said Hart. “They are career-ready with skills to be ‘stewards of place’ when they graduate.”

For more information, contact Hart at or 559.278.0319.

Learn more about Fresno State’s Urban Civic Education minor here.

What We’re Reading: Core Competencies in Civic Engagement and the Bibliography Project

As we focus more on the specific civic knowledge, skills, dispositions and experiences needed to prepare the next generation of citizens for our democracy, the Center for Engaged Democracy at Merrimack College has released a working policy paper: Core Competencies in Civic Engagement. I encourage each of you to read and consider contributing to this effort to identify the essential civic competencies that higher education should be ensuring students develop in college. I also encourage you to contribute to the complementary Bibliography Project, a repository of civic engagement-focused readings that can be incorporated in college courses. You might also want to take a look at the syllabi repository.

– Jen Domagal-Goldman, ADP National Manager

Core Competencies in Civic Engagement and the Bibliography Project

The Center for Engaged Democracy recently held its 3rd annual research institute on The Future of Community Engagement in Higher Education. Over 70 individuals from around the United States and Canada participated in an incredibly dynamic and informative two days of sessions and dialogues.

Several key initiatives included the launch of a Working Policy Paper “Core Competencies in Civic Engagement” (that reviewed and synthesized key competencies of national-level reports, a literature review, and almost 30 academic civic engagement programs — e.g., civic minors — around the country) and the development of a Bibliography Project (that compiled and annotated key texts used in courses within several dozen academic programs in Community Engagement). You can see all of the session materials and syllabi on the Center for Engaged Democracy’s WikiSpace site. The Center will be following up on these and other initiatives in the coming months, including:

  • Offering a pre-session at IARSLCE on the research and practice of academic programs (certificates, minors, and majors) in Community Engagement.
  • Next steps (dialogues, collaborations, and research) with national organizations and academic programs around the just released “Core Competencies in Civic Engagement
  • RFPs for individuals and teams on research and policies related to academic programs in Community Engagement.

Update on AASCU’s Civic Minor in Urban Education Initiative

By Jolanda Westerhof, Director, Teacher Education, AASCU

The Corporation for National and Community Service awarded AASCU a $433,874 Learn and Serve America Higher Education grant to design and implement new Civic Minors in Urban Education on five selected AASCU campuses. The campuses selected to participate through a Request for Proposals process are:

  1. Buffalo State College (SUNY)
  2. California State University-Fresno
  3. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  4. West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  5. Wright State University

The new Civic Minors, open to all university students, will offer pre-service teachers, and their peers who might not otherwise consider a career in education, an opportunity to learn about service learning as a pedagogy, have experiences with service learning in urban settings, and take other courses in the minor which develop a rich understanding of the public policy context with which urban schools are situated.

The ultimate goal of this project is to produce urban teachers who can use service learning as a teaching strategy and who can understand both their clinical work as classroom teachers and their broader obligations as democratic professionals. Each of the new Minors will be unique, but all five will require three Service Learning components:

  • Public Achievement, an award-winning strategy for improving K-12 students’ sense of efficacy and self-esteem;
  • a second service learning experience identified by the urban school district partner (e.g. tutoring, after school programs, community study center, etc.); and,
  • a service learning methods course, to make sure that future teachers can implement service learning with their students.

Each campus has designated two Design Team Leaders (one from the liberal arts and sciences and the other from teacher education). Design Team Leaders from all five campuses participated in an Orientation Program in Washington, D.C. on February 21-23 and will return for a two-week Institute in late June, 2011.

Look for Civic Minor in Urban Education Design Team Leaders at the 2012 and 2013 annual meeting of the American Democracy Project where they will share their work during a plenary session, as well as a special track in the meeting program. We will also create a full day pre-conference workshop in 2012 and 2013 for other campuses interested in adopting the Civic Minor in Urban Education model.

Each campus is expected to have its Civic Minor in Urban Education designed, approved, and in operation within three years.

For more information about this grant, please visit this website.

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