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Place-Based Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Action Collaborative

AAC&U's Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Initiative focuses on advancing education for a diverse US democracy, that is moving forward into an increasingly intertwined global community, as a core expectation for every college graduate regardless of their area of specialized study. The CLDE Action Collaborative and its goals have been and continue to be deeply informed by the national report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future (ACM), released at the White House in cooperation with the Department of Education in 2012.  ACM offers powerful evidence that civic learning enhances other learning commonly sought in college, contributes to student retention and graduation, and leads to other indicators of student academic success and overall community health.  One essential action identified in ACM is aimed to reclaim and reinvest in the functional civic and democratic mission of schools and of all sectors within higher education.

The goal of the CLDE Action Collaborative is to build an even stronger leadership corps of academic institutions to address society's civic challenges by using place-based strategies to: 1) showcases region specific best-practice models for civic learning; 2) developing multi-institution civic action plans; and 3) defining civic learning within the departments, programs, disciplines. The CLDE Action Collaboratives were designed around core themes, allowing participant institutions to assess their own circumstances and develop action plans related to their goals. Chicago and Philadelphia hosted two-part, city-wide CLDE Action Collaborative working meetings aimed to move civic learning and democratic engagement from niches to norms on their colleges and universities. 

Philadelphia Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Action Collaborative

In November 2014, funded by the AAC&U's Leadership Fund and co-sponsored by PA Campus Compact, a two-part, city-wide CLDE Action Collaborative, Creating Civic-Minded Institutions: From Partial and Optional to Pervasive and Expected, has been convened to serve as a catalyst for advancing campus civic learning and democratic engagement for social justice and equity on all levels of college life and in all academic disciplines. The collaborative provided the opportunity for participating institutions to map institutional civic assets, identify gaps, and plan action steps; create reasonable, achievable plans to promote the design and implementation of civic learning and democratic engagement practices and programs; and intensify the existing citywide network of civic practitioners, scholars, and partners. The Philadelphia CLDE Action Collaborative involved 10 teams representing presidents, administrators, faculty, civic engagement professionals, students and community partners from 10 Philadelphia-area colleges and universities in a coordinated effort to advance civic learning and democratic engagement on each campus. 

The institutions participating in the Philadelphia CLDE Action Collaborative were:

  • Bryn Mawr College

  • Community College of Philadelphia

  • Drexel University

  • Haverford

  • La Salle University

  • Penn State University Abington

  • Saint Joseph's University

  • University of Pennsylvania

  • Ursinus College

  • Widener College

The first gathering focused on assessing civic assets and gaps, crafting a two-year civic investment plan, expanding leaders and locales, sharing existing models, and where feasible, identifying emerging cross-institutional collaborations. In June 2015, the second gathering focused on making and marking progress, clearing roadblocks, refining practices, offering proven models and research to a national audience, solidifying the citywide community of practice, drawing collective lessons as a citywide collaborative that point to future arenas of civic action on an individual campus or as a cross-institutional collaboration.

Chicago Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Action Collaborative

Funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the CLDE Action Collaboratives were designed as working meetings to advance civic learning and democratic engagement at colleges and universities as a core expectation for all college students, regardless of their area of specialized study. From 2012-2014, there were two CLDE Action Collaborative sessions, the first focused on Creating Civic-Minded Institutions, followed by the second session Civic Inquires and Actions Across the Disciplines.

Civic Inquires and Actions Across the Disciplines

The 2014 Chicago Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Action Collaborative, Broadening CLDE's Institutional Footprint: Civic Inquires and Actions Across the Disciplines, has been convened to advance civic learning and democratic engagement by embedding civic inquiries and civic actions within all disciplines and academic programs, including pre-professional ones.  The seven Chicago colleges and universities participating in this CLDE Action Collaborative were:

  • City Colleges of Chicago

  • Governors State University

  • Lewis University

  • North Park University

  • Northern Illinois University

  • Roosevelt University

  • University of Illinois at Chicago

Illinois Campus Compact partnered again with AAC&U in this Chicago Action Collaborative.

The second McCormick-funded Chicago CLDE Action Collaborative was conducted in three stages over the 2014 calendar year.  In the first, with outside consultants and faculty with civic expertise from the six schools above, Disciplinary Cluster Working Groups created templates to help new faculty promote civic learning in their respective teaching areas.  In the second stage, some fifty to sixty faculty members from the participating institutions attended a summer institute to use the templates to integrate a civic lens and civic pedagogies into their courses.  In the final section, the templates were further refined and then made available with additional tools on AAC&U's website to serve as a national recourse for faculty across the country (available soon in March 2015). The templates and tools should help make civic inquiries and civic action more commonplace across a broad range of subjects, thus reaching more students more often.

2013 Creating Civic-minded Institutions

In November 2012 and again in April 2013, AAC&U hosted a two-part, city-wide Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Action Collaborative, the first in what is expected to be a national series of city-wide collaborative action forums to assist institutions with implementing the National Call to Action from A Crucible Moment.  The CLDE Action Collaborative involved 12 teams representing presidents, administrators, faculty, civic engagement professionals, students and community partners from 16 Chicago-area colleges and universities in a coordinated effort to advance civic learning and democratic engagement on each campus.

The institutions participating in the Chicago CLDE Action Collaborative were:

  • City Colleges of Chicago (representing Harold Washington College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, and Olive-Harvey College)

  • DePaul University

  • Dominican University

  • Elmhurst College

  • Governors State University

  • Lewis University

  • Loyola University Chicago

  • Northern Illinois University

  • Northwestern University

  • Roosevelt University

  • School of the Arts Institute Chicago (SAIC)

  • Trinity Christian College

The collaborative provided the opportunity for participating institutions to map institutional civic assets, identify gaps, and plan action steps; create reasonable, achievable plans to promote the design and implementation of civic learning and democratic engagement practices and programs; and intensify the existing citywide network of civic practitioners, scholars, and partners. AAC&U has benefitted in the planning for this Action Collaborative from a Leadership Advisory Group that includes DePaul University, Elmhurst College, Loyola University Chicago, and Northwestern University. AAC&U has also profited from the advice and partnership of two civic organizations: Illinois Campus Compact and the Interfaith Youth Core.

These documents also will assist colleges and universities addressing the ambitious recommendations in the national report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future, released at the White House in 2012 and available online and in print through AAC&U (http://www.aacu.org/crucible). Created by a broad constituency of stakeholders, A Crucible Moment seeks to move civic learning and democratic engagement from niches to norms and expected of every college graduate. These two new assessment resources will help campuses measure their progress over time.

We invite you to form a team of key stakeholders to fill in the Civic Matrix together and use the matrix to map your institutions overall commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement, on and off campus, whether locally or globally. 

 

Examples of Civic Signature Work:

Dominican University –Minor in Social Justice and Civic 

A minor in social justice and civic engagement minor (SJCE) is offered through the Community-Based Learning Office at Dominican University. The minor enables students to engage and deepen their civic engagement and service to the community while studying emerging research in the field of social justice. Twenty-one semesters hours are required, in addition to two SJCE specific courses: Introduction to Social Justice and Civic Engagement and Social Justice and Civic Engagement Capstone.  During the completion of at least 100-hours of service with an approved community –agency partners, students study a range of topics rooted in social inequity and injustice such as service, social justice, global injustice, public ethics, civic engagement, human rights, social change, and global pursuit of the common good will be introduced. 

Loyola University Chicago- Community-based research and education through the Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL)

The Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) collaborates with the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School to offer community-based research and education academic programs focused on providing students opportunities for in-depth study of urban issues and collaborative research. CURL incorporates its research and partnerships to create innovative solutions that promote equity and opportunity in communities throughout the Chicago metropolitan region. To address grassroots need, CURL provides links to regional, national, and international networks in pursuit of new idea through partnerships connecting Loyola faculty and students with community and nonprofit organizations, civic groups, and government agencies.  Such collaborations effectively link knowledge in the community with knowledge in the university. One program CURL offers to help build sustainable communities through engaged students is the Fellows program. Fellows are part of the CURL research team of undergraduate, graduate, and community fellows to bring different perspectives to address an urban issue such as homelessness, welfare reform, hunger and nutrition, community health, safety, childcare, affordable housing, job training and placement and domestic violence.  The fellow ships offered through CURL provide students a stipend and expect students to be engaged in CURL activities.

Northern Illinois University - Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning

Northern Illinois University's Center for Nongovernmental Organization Leadership and Development is the home of the interdisciplinary major: Community Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) and an undergraduate certificate in civic engagement. The CLCE major is one of only two freestanding majors in the United States that include both community leadership and civic engagement, CLCE majors are steeped in lessons of democracy and social capital and learn about nonprofits and public service, civic engagement and the role of the third sector locally, nationally and internationally.  Central to the CLCE major are civic engagement, and service-learning pedagogy. Students are required to participate in active civic engagement projects where in teams they identify a community problem and develop/execute a plan to address it. They also partake in intensive service-learning community projects working closely with nonprofit partner agencies.   Complementary to the civic focused coursework, CLCE students are enrolled in a variety of liberal arts classes from departments such as Anthropology, Sociology and Political Science.  As a cross campus interdisciplinary major students elect emphasis areas that will include courses from the college of Business and Health and Human Sciences. The certificate students major in other disciplines but elect to add the overlay of civic engagement through this program.

Drexel Community Scholars

The Drexel Community Scholar program is a unique public service and leadership program open to students who desire to serve as a liaison between the University and a community partner organization. Drexel Community Scholars (DCS) strive to enhance their academic learning through critical thinking, public problem solving, and intentional reflection, while also developing the skills necessary to be active and responsible citizens. DCS work primarily in areas of volunteer recruitment, program delivery, and capacity building.In the 2014-15 academic year, 35 students will serve as Drexel Community Scholars. The program is managed through the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement. For more information, visit: http://www.drexel.edu/lindycenter/students/leadership-opportunities/DCS/

La Salle University Inside-Out Civic Initiatives or Programs

La Salle University offers a number of "Inside-Out" academic courses, which are taught inside Philadelphia prisons. Half of the students are La Salle students ("outside" students) and half are incarcerated students ("inside" students).  These courses are designed to bring college students and incarcerated men and women together to examine fundamental issues of social justice. Currently five La Salle faculty members are certified to teach Inside-Out courses and two additional faculty members plan to complete the training in 2015. Recent Inside-Out courses have centered on questions such as: How do we account for America's exceptionally high incarceration rate? How does incarceration impact individuals? What are the current goals of our criminal justice system and what should be the goals?  http://wp.lasalle.edu/cel/community-engagement-and-service-learning/inside-out/