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Posts tagged ‘civic skills’

National Study on Student Civic Skills and Identities Seeking ADP/TDC Campus Participation

Research Question
Do campus student organizations cultivate civic skills and identities?

JOIN A NATIONAL STUDY TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION. This National Study is being organized by two ADP Campus Coordinators and political science faculty members — Elizabeth Bennion at Indiana University South Bend and Cherie Strachan at Central Michigan University.

Invitation to Participate
Minimal time commitment! Serve as campus coordinator or recruit somebody else!

TO SIGN UP OR GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CIVIC SKILLS RESEARCH PROJECT, please send the following information to Elizabeth Bennion at the project email address RSOstudy@iusb.edu: name, title, contact information (including email and phone number).

Project Description
Colleges and universities are increasingly called upon to bolster students’ civic and political engagement. Yet research in both political science and higher education suggest that current college-level civic education and political science coursework are incapable of fully addressing these concerns. Political scientists know that participation in associational life plays an important role in cultivating such engagement. Yet we have largely overlooked the potential of civil society on our own campuses. Given the prominent role of voluntary associations in political socialization, this work explores whether student organizations function as the equivalent of campus civil society, and whether they can supplement formal civic education efforts on campus. A single-campus pilot study, based on an internet survey of student organization presidents, found that traditional Greek organizations far outperformed other types of campus organizations in activities known to cultivate members’ civic identities, political skills, and political efficacy. The finding that some student organizations excel at this task is reassuring. Yet given the reputation of Greek organizations, this preliminary pattern is also disconcerting. Recent research by both sociologists and higher education scholars have found that participation in Greek organizations is associated with higher levels of sexism and symbolic racism. This project seeks to replicate the single campus pilot study across numerous college campuses, to determine whether the patterns identified are unique to a single campus, or whether they describe the state of campus civil society across higher education. The findings will help advocates of campus civic engagement to identify both problem-areas and best-practices for student groups. [NOTE: You do NOT need to have Greek organization on campus to participate in this study of registered student organizations.]

Participation Requirements | Campus coordinators for this project will be asked to:

  • Assemble contact information for student organization presidents on their campus
  • Provide assistance coordinating approval of the questionnaire/study for their campus
  • Help to bolster the response rate on their campus

Participation Benefits | Campus coordinators for this project will receive:

  • A report detailing the findings for their own campus
  • A summary report comparing their campus to overall findings
  • A letter documenting participation in the project
  • Eligibility to serve as PI of future Consortium projects

IRB Approval Notice
This study has already been approved by the Institutional Review Board at both Indiana University South Bend and Central Michigan University. The Principle Investigators of the study, Elizabeth Bennion (IUSB) and J. Cherie Strachan (CMU) will assure that all protocols are strictly observed. The recruitment procedure and student leader survey have been vetted by the Institutional Review Board of each campus in accordance with university and federal policies governing human subjects research. A copy of the IRB approval letters, or other IRB materials, is available upon request. Separate IRB approvals are NOT required for each participating campus. The requirements and approval protocols for student participation in national research studies vary by campus. However, if your campus would like you (or the PIs) to submit an IRB application, or other materials, please contact Elizabeth Bennion at the project email site RSOstudy@iusb.edu. Dr. Bennion will be pleased to assist with any IRB requests related to this study of registered student organizations.

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.

Reflections on the Public Purposes of Our Work

By George Mehaffy, Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change, AASCU

In the midst of all that we are involved in, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the purpose of our work.  It is widely acknowledged that our public institutions are increasingly viewed as a “private good.” Students and their parents, understandably, are focused on college as career preparation.  Yet the last 9 years of the American Democracy Project have convinced me that we, as higher education leaders, need to be forceful advocates for a college education that does more than simply prepare one for a career (important as that is).  We need to advocates for developing students who can be informed, engaged citizens in our democracy.

Here are three simple arguments about why our public institutions must continue to focus on the “public good” of preparing citizens for our democracy.

  • First, you only have to think about the dysfunction in Washington to worry about the future of our democracy.  Increasing polarization, growing inequality, and a failure to confront and address our most pressing problems threaten our way of life.  A recent campaign to get all companies to contribute 1% of their profits to environmental protection ended with an ominous note.  When asked why companies should contribute, the response was: “Because there’s no business done on a dead planet.”  In a similar vein, do we really want to live, work, and have our children and grandchildren grow up in a country where democracy has been profoundly weakened?
  • Second, involving students in civic work is highly engaging. Civic work, well done, leads to higher levels of student engagement, resulting in greater student success, greater retention, and higher graduation rates.  In other words, civic work can contribute to both student and institutional success.
  • Third, the argument that we can’t do civic preparation because it takes away from career preparation is a false dichotomy.   As I read the Business Roundtable or National Association of Manufacturers reports about the problems of recent college graduates, they never say: “she doesn’t know enough Biology,” or “he doesn’t know enough about Accounting.”  Instead they complain about the lack of 21st century career skills: working with people who are different, listening to others, organizing to achieve a goal, communicating effectively.  In fact, these 21st century career skills are also civic skills; indeed, some of these skills are best taught in civic engagement activities. So preparing students for careers and citizenship can be done simultaneously.

In our American Democracy Project, we have continuously stressed the importance of “institutional intentionality.”  Every campus has some imaginative and creative civic project underway.  However, most of the time, these projects are isolated, idiosyncratic, and episodic.  What we need, it seems to me, to realize the goal of producing informed, engaged citizens are institutions committed to having a civic impact on ALL students.

As we approach ADP’s 10th anniversary, I encourage you to reinvigorate your campus’ civic education and engagement efforts. I continue to be passionate about the need for American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) members to carve out a distinctive mission at a time when our institutions are challenged as never before about their mission and purpose.  I believe that the civic mission is not only a distinctive mission for AASCU institutions but one that is critical for our students, for our own success, and for the success of our country.

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