Expanding Students Civic Participation through the DC Experience
As administrators and campus leaders, we can take these lessons learned from Leadership UMiami and apply them to our programing to better engage the future leaders of our world. However, we also must understand the importance of creating communities and space for our students to engage in dialogue and understanding around issues important to them. Providing these opportunities and spaces can further the civic participation on our campuses and create a greater sense of community.
Opening A Center Leads To An Enhanced Relationship
Illinois State University’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) just finished its first school year in operation. Well, it is not as concise as that. Our director has been planning for the department since 2015. The assistant director for Assessment, Data Management, and Grant Writing started in December 2016, which was also the same month our physical space was available. The office/budget manager began in April 2017. Those of us reorganized from the Dean of Students Office moved in June 2017. It was more of a rolling start, but the 2017 – 2018 school year marked our first official year as a department. The Center was formally recognized and introduced to our campus and community in September 2017 with a ribbon cutting.
Knowledge that Works at the Polls
While there is still a great deal of work ahead, Pavan Purswani and the Office of Transitions and Community Engagement will continue to work to drive voter engagement at UB. And while other campuses may consider adopting some of the successful practices at UB, it’s important to choose strategies that work for your campus and that keep your institution’s unique culture and practices in mind.
Civic Action Planning to Civic Action
Campuses should commit to implementing their plan, but also allow for flexibility. r plan but be flexible. As it builds momentum let others collaborate and make sure community partners and students are at the table. Additionally, you will make mistakes along the way, but without mistakes we may never have tough conversations or create new ways to create change. If you haven’t started assessing your department or institution, go for it! Find the CLDE Emergent Theory of change and put it to work. Build it into your programs and push for campus and community partnership reforms. Community engagement work is building momentum across the nation and this is one way to strengthen programs. Take the leap and create action, it’s worth it.
Build It and They Will Engage – But Who Engages
Are some students purposively not taking courses with a service-learning component? Courses that are built around service-learning are unique because it places equal emphasis on enhancing student learning and meeting community needs. Research has shown that experiential education including, community service, internships and service-learning, offers students the opportunity to practice what they learn from traditional classroom teaching outside in the real world (Eyler & Giles, 1999). Students have stated: “What I have experienced and learned cannot be replicated in a traditional classroom. I’ve learned more in this class—about the criminal justice system, myself and others—than I’ve learned elsewhere. I’d take this class 10 [times] over” (Student, Criminal Justice outside the Classroom, CRMJ 431). If service-learning provides an environment of inquiry and allows students the opportunity to think and make meaning of their life and the world, then how do build a better representation in the courses.
Using Emotionally Intelligent Leadership as a Framework
The Social Change Model of Leadership (Komives & Wagner, 2017) is traditionally seen as the “go to” framework when creating programs intended for college student development with regard to civic learning and democratic engagement in a co-curricular setting. And rightly so, since the model centers on leadership being socially responsible, collaborative, a process (not a position), inclusive and accessible to all people, and values based; and it also recognizes that community involvement and service are powerful vehicles for leadership (Komives & Wagner, 2017, p.10). I’d like to suggest another model, with several similarities, through which we might also approach our CLDE work: Emotionally Intelligent Leadership.