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.
Meet the #CLDE18 Interns: Vera, Hannah, and Collin
We are thrilled to introduce the three student interns for the 2018 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting (#CLDE18). As Vera, Hannah, and Chris introduce themselves below, please know that together they represent a vested interest in civic engagement among students in our networks to engage meaningfully on our campuses, in our classrooms, in our broader communities, and in our democracy.
Wading into the Messiness: Civil Engagement for Civic Engagement
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.
Election Reflection – One Year Later
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.
Free Webinar: CLDE18 Call for Proposals & Emergent Theory of Change
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.
What is the Role of Higher Ed in Fostering a Strong, Positive Public Discourse?
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).