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As the director of a research institute studying higher education’s role in democracy, I have been inundated on November 9 with emails, texts, and calls. Donald Trumps’ election as the 45th President of the United States shocked people on college campuses who are worried about his messages of exclusion, hate, and fear, his disregard for facts and truth, and an anti-intellectualism that may characterize his leadership and “base.” As I have written before, his messages are antithetical to goals of truth, equal opportunity, and inclusion central to higher education’s mission.
In the past year, our nation has experienced incidents that have had a personal, visceral, profound effect on our students; incidents of intolerance, hatred, and violence fill the newsfeed. In an “us vs them” dichotomy where debate and arguing to win has surpassed discussion and listening to learn and understand, higher education needs to focus not just on civic engagement but civil engagement. At Colby-Sawyer College, our students have asked us to include conversations on current and controversial topics as part of their classroom experiences.
The Photo Project is an ongoing series of posts that will utilize story telling to highlight how social class shows up in the academy. Both my grandfathers were farmers. My PawPaw, my maternal grandfather, tended fields of rice and soybeans. My PaPa, my paternal grandfather, was a cattleman. Both of my grandmothers also worked on the homestead, doing both physical and mental labor, including serving as the “bookkeepers” and “cooks” for the farms. My MaMa, my paternal grandmother, was the only one of my four grandparents to graduate from high school, the very high school I later attended and graduated from.
One year ago, I posted an Election Reflection blog in which I argued: “Political learning and engagement in democracy begins anew today, not during the next election season. Like all elections, this one should be a wake-up call.” I challenged colleges and universities to seize this moment in the nation’s history to teach students across all disciplines to explore multiple perspectives on issues; to advance quality political discourse; to fact check candidates, social media, and pundits, and to engage with local communities. On this one-year anniversary, I reissue that call for reflection and challenge campuses to examine what’s been done during the past year to educate not for the democracy we have, but the democracy we want.
Should technology be banned from the classroom or allowed? I realize it is a hot button issue… a simple google search will validate the fact that people tend to sit in one of two camps on this issue. Though I was biased going into the presentation, I decided to research the issue to provide a balanced perspective for my attendees. Little did I know, my own perspectives — and in fact, my own technology “policy” might be impacted.
In this session, participants will engage in conversation about the emerging theory of change [PDF] for the annual CLDE conference and CLDE work. How are these components – civic ethos, civic literacy and skill building, civic inquiry, civic action, and civic agency – actualized on our campuses and outside of the campus community. This session is intended to further explain the emerging theory of change, how one might incorporate the theory into your work and how the CLDE18 planning committee envisions what a thriving democracy is.
Rose Pascarell, Vice President for University Life at George Mason University, reflects on the transformational opportunities that exist for students and campus leaders during these turbulent times in higher education and in the United States.
When Jürgen Habermas discussed the notion of the public sphere, he identified three hallmarks central to an open, honest discourse: (a) a disregard of status, (b) a space for common concerns, and (c) inclusivity. The sociological argument he proposed is that: if a group of private citizens wish to come together as a community – a public sphere – this group must disregard backgrounds of participants (valuing all ideas and opinions, yet not necessarily agreeing with them), question and challenge traditions in ways that promote social progress, and above all, remove the temptation to form cliques (Habermas, 1991).