Navigating the “Truths” of History
This year, 2019, serves as the 400th commemoration of the emergence of the first representative legislative body, “planting the seed of democracy in America,” and equally significant, it marks the arrival of Africans—who did not have any legal protections or status—to the shores of what is now known as Virginia.1 The men who established representative government and made the first laws in 1619, also took the first steps toward creating a system of slavery. Republican democracy and the political economy of slavery were inextricably linked for more than 250 years.
It’s Not All or Nothing: Planned Versus Emergent Change Theory
As budget cuts force colleges and universities to cut programs, especially in the humanities and social sciences, it is imperative that the work done in the area of civic and democratic engagement over the past 20+ years take root in the curriculum as a whole – this is the underpinning of emergent change. The public problem-solving course detailed in this blog is part of a program dog-eared for transformation because the interdisciplinary department in which it is taught was dissolved due to cuts and reorganization. Fortunately, this course as well as others like it, were purposed as general education courses early on and will remain part of that curriculum as long as faculty exist to teach the material. In other words, though the department will be gone, the courses will continued to be offered. At this point, it is impossible to predict exactly what the outcome will be but if civic literacy and democratic engagement is the foundation of all educational goals and outcomes, the work started years ago will live on. In this case, planned and emergent change work hand in hand rather than in opposition – it’s not all or nothing.
Pioneers Vote: Engaging a Reluctant Audience
Civic engagement on a college campus depends on the creation of an environment cognizant of the characteristics of its student population and respectful of the diverse opinions of all those in the campus community. In a national political and social environment where the act of engaging civically feels even more “risky”, how do we engage our diverse campus populations in a way that inspires and empowers them to use their voices and join in dialogue? At Texas Woman’s University, the answer has been to create civic engagement initiatives unique to our student population using research, best practices, and cross-campus collaborations.
Working to Create a Thriving Democracy
The CLDE planning team does an excellent job curating a program that brings together exceptional researchers, practitioners, students, thought-leaders, and organizations to foster stimulating debates and help us position our work around the Theory of Change. That framework and the intentional design from speaker selection to session format has definitely influenced how I work with others on my campus to design workshops and events for students, faculty, and community partners. Another aspect of the conference that I greatly appreciate is how the values of democratic participation are manifest in the meeting planning, venue, sessions, and activities. It is important to be congruent with our values, and I believe the organizers of the CLDE meeting do that very well.
We’ve moved! Find the latest Research and Policy Institute updates on the NASPA blog!
Starting in late April, 2019, the NASPA Research and Policy Institute blog has been merged into the NASPA blog! Check us out there: http://www.naspa.org/about/blog
CEEP Fellows in Action
In the Summer of 2018, The Department of Student Leadership and Service at Kennesaw State University (KSU) was approached by the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) about hosting Fellows to support our civic learning and democratic engagement efforts on campus. CEEP is a national nonpartisan project that helps administrators, faculty, staff, and student leaders at American colleges and universities engage in federal, state, and local elections. CEEP Fellows are student leaders who help carry out CEEP activities through planning, recruitment, and implementation of specialized projects.