A CRUCIBLE MOMENT: COLLEGE LEARNING AND DEMOCRACY’S FUTURE Caryn McTighe MusilAssociation of American Colleges and UniversitiesBonner Foundation High Impact Summer Institute June 27, 2012
“DEMOCRACY NEEDS TO BE BORN ANEW EVERY GENERATION, AND EDUCATION IS THE MIDWIFE.” John Dewey
TROUBLING SIGNS IN US DEMOCRACY• Resurgent nativism and anti-immigrant attitudes and policies• Reconfiguring race and racial categories even in the midst of intensified racial segregation• Inflammatory, vitriolic public discourse with little regard for accuracy or facts• Assault on the value of government, its agencies, and its public employees• Dangerous and historic economic inequalities where gap has widened
WHY NOW?INDICATORS OF ANEMIC CIVIC HEALTH• U.S. ranked 139th in voter participation of 172 world democracies in 2007.• Only 24% of graduating high school seniors scored at the proficient or advanced level in civics in 2010.• Less than ½ of 12th graders reported studying international topics as part
MORE INDICATORS OF CIVIC MALAISE• College seniors surveyed in 2006-07 averaged just over 50% in a civic literacy exam.• Just over 1/3 of college faculty surveyed strongly agreed their campus actively promotes awareness of US or global social, political, and economic issues.• Just over 1/3 of students surveyed strongly agreed that faculty publicly advocate the need for students to become active and involved citizens.
ONE LAST INDICATOR FOR HIGHER EDUCATION TO PONDER• Only one-third of college students surveyed strongly agreed that their college education resulted in increased civic capacities. • Civic awareness expanded • Skills learned to effectively change society for the better
TRUMAN COMMISSION KEY RECOMMENDATION“The first and most essentialcharge upon higher education isthat at all levels and in all fields ofspecialization, it shall be thecarrier of democratic values,ideals, and processes.” • Higher Education for American Democracy, 1947
KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION1.Foster a CIVIC ETHOS across all parts of the campus and educational culture.2.Make CIVIC LITERACY a core expectation for all students.3.Practice CIVIC INQUIRY across all fields of study.4.Advance CIVIC ACTION through transformative partnerships, at home and abroad.
THE CHALLENGE IN ACADEMIA TO ADVANCE CIVIC LEARNING• From elective to expected• From one time to progressive learning over time• From individually oriented civic action to collaboratively oriented action• From some departments, divisions, and people to everyone all over campus• From parallel practices and programs to integrated ones
CONTEMPORARY, COMPREHENSIVE DEFINITION OF CIVIC LEARNING• Contestation about democratic principles• Diversity past, present, and future• Being informed by multiple perspectives• Comparative political movements for democratic justice• The global dimensions of local citizenship• Interdependence globally and locally• New modes of collective action
TRENDS THAT HAVE TURNED CAMPUS LIFE INTO A PUBLIC COMMONS• From monocultural space to multicultural space• From access for the very few to access for the majority• From an exclusionary curriculum to a more inclusive one• From passive pedagogies to more problem- oriented, hands-on pedagogies• From talking about democracy to doing democracy• From reaching out to the community to being part of the community• From being sequestered from the globe to recognizing how global issues permeate everyday life locally
STUDENTS ARE URGING HIGHEREDUCATION TO EMBRACE CIVIC LEARNING
ENLARGE THE NATIONAL NARRATIVE: COMPLETION AND CITIZENSHIP• Correlation between civic-oriented college activities and college completion academic engagement deepening connections with faculty higher grade point higher retention more likely to complete degrees career clarification
THE FOUNDATION HAS ALREADY BEEN PARTIALLY LAIDCurricular civic pathways • Making civic literacy a core expectation for all students in general education programs Tulane University, Portland State University, St. Edward’s University • Integrating civic inquiry into a central field of study California State, Monterey Bay Wagner College, Worcester Polytechnic
STILL MORE FOUNDATIONS LAID IN NEW WINGSAdvancing Collaborative, Generative Civic Partnerships and Alliances • Beyond traditional campus boundaries, in local and global contexts, sustained and generative where transformation of knowledge, students, and communities occur Anchor Institutions, Syracuse University, Allegheny College
THE GOOD NEWS: THE FOUNDATION HAS ALREADY BEEN PARTIALLY LAID• The Bad News: It is • Random • Largely uncharted • Lacking signage • Without sufficient progression over time • Optional • Available to only some students 17
HIGH IMPACT PRACTICES AND CIVIC LEARNING?• First-year seminars and experiences• Common intellectual experiences• Learning communities• Writing-intensive courses• Undergraduate research
MORE HIGH IMPACT PRACTICES AND CIVIC LEARNING• Collaborative assignments and projects• Diversity/Global learning• Service learning, community-based courses• Experiential learning, internships, study abroad• Capstone courses and projects
• Intergroup and deliberative dialogue University of Michigan, Sustained Dialogues, California State, Chico• Service Learning and Volunteer Service• Collective civic problem solving University of Maryland, Duke University, Northern University• Diversity and global learning experiences
KUH’S DISTINGUISHING FEATURES OF HIGH QUALITY HIPS• Students need to devote time and effort to purposeful tasks• Students need to be put in circumstances that demand they interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters• HIPs need to be characterized by diversity (contact with others who are different)• Students need to see how what they are learning works in different settings, on and off campus.
CARYN’S CAUTIONARY REMARKS ABOUT HIPS• Most do not automatically lead to civic learning and almost none to democratic engagement.• Different HIPs produce different and partial outcomes.• When diversity is integrated as a component of a HIP, the civic impact is increased.• One is not enough and too many can depress most valued outcomes.• There is a huge range in quality within a given HIP and we need to know more about what determines a high quality HIP and produces civic learning.
GAUNTLET TO YOUR BONNER PROJECT• How can you insure that your HIPS produce civic outcomes?• How do the HIPS you employ expand capacities for engagement across differences?• How can you refine that huge HIP called “Diversity/Global Learning” so it is more useful?• How can your Bonner network produce evidence to refine national understanding about which HIPS accelerate civic learning and democratic engagement and why?
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT Caryn McTighe Musil Senior Vice PresidentAssociation of American Colleges and Universities firstname.lastname@example.org www.aacu.org To download or order A Crucible Moment, see: http://www.aacu.org/civic_learning/crucible/index.cfm