Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) means promoting the education of students for engaged citizenship through democratic participation in their communities, respect and appreciation of diversity, applied learning and social responsibility. The CLDE focus area supports discussion, educational programming, and professional development to help student affairs professionals provide students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make a difference in their communities. To enhance and develop your understanding of CLDE, this focus area shares information from NASPA’s Lead Initiative, knowledge communities, NASPA conferences and events, and research and publications.

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement
Constituent Groups

The CLDE focus area draw expertise from NASPA's members through the NASPA LEAD Initiative as well as the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Knowledge Community, and Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Knowledge Community's working group: Service-Learning and Community Engagement (SLCE).

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

  • Effective Strategies for Supporting Student Civic Engagement
    By Marissa Corrente, Jonathan Hilsher, Stephanie King, and Melinda L. Tejada

    Recent protests and political events signal the need for higher education institutions to take a closer look at the importance and significance of student activism on college students’ experiences. Out-of-classroom…


  • Engagement and Employability examines the central role student affairs plays in helping students gain and articulate career skills through cocurricular experiences. It focuses on the top skills employers seek when…


  • While the responsibility of this task is shared among faculty, administrators, policymakers, and community leaders, the brief argues that student affairs leadership is crucial to institutionalizing civic learning and democratic…

  • Responding to Campus Protests (Legal Links Vol 1, Iss 2)
    By Robert Axmacher, Leslie Banahan, Rhonda Beassie, Fernando Gomez, Neal H. Hutchens, Kerry Brian Melear, Brian A. Sponsler, and Jeffrey C. Sun

    This Legal Links issue on responding to campus protests offers student affairs professionals a resource for addressing campus protests while honoring First Amendment principles of free speech, promoting inclusion, and maintaining campus…

  • Cool Passion: Challenging Higher Education
    By Arthur W. Chickering and Associates

    Arthur W. Chickering is one of the leading researchers in student development theory and its implications for higher education. In 1969 he published Education and Identity, which posited seven vectors…


  • Leadership Exchange magazine helps prepare chief student affairs officers for the most complex management challenges in higher education today. The magazine delivers expert news and analysis on the latest trends…


  • The mission of Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice (JSARP) is to publish the most rigorous, relevant, and well-respected research that makes a difference in student affairs practice. The…

  • The Game of Oppression
    By Lamara Warren and Colette Cummings

    While college campuses are becoming increasingly diverse, many students still find it difficult to step outside of what is familiar and interact with students of different races, religions, classes, abilities…

  • The First Amendment on Campus
    By Lee E. Bird, Mary Beth Mackin & Saundra K. Schuster, Editors

    What should college and university administrators do when the First Amendment seemingly conflicts with tightly held institutional values? Should administrators block, discourage, or attempt to adjudicate speech because it doesn’t…

  • Student Freedom Revisited: Contemporary Issues and Perspectives
    By Robert L. Ackerman, William B. Werner & Louis C. Vaccaro, Editors

    During the late 1960s and early 1970s, a powerful new force, student activism, appeared on the campuses of America's colleges and universities. Student Freedom In American Higher Education brought together…


  • This updated set of Professional Competency Areas is intended to define the broad professional knowledge, skills, and, in some cases, attitudes expected of student affairs professionals regardless of their area…

  • Building a Culture of Evidence in Student Affairs: A Guide for Leaders and Practitioners
    By Marguerite McGann Culp and Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy, Editors

    Developed by experienced student affairs leaders who have successfully implemented cultures of evidence on their campuses, this tutorial offers practical advice and concrete examples of how to plan, create, and…


Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement
Initiatives & Awards

NASPA recognizes its campuses for promoting civic learning and democratic engagement with the following awards and initiatives:

NASPA's Lead Initiative
The Lead Initiative recognizes a network of 84 institutions for their commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement.
National Student Affairs Day of Action
National Student Affairs Day of Action logo
Engaging with our representative democracy is essential to maintaining the health and function of our nation’s government.

Related Posts

  • 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.

    Posted on May 6, 2019 at 03:56 PM by LEAD Initiative
  • 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.

    Posted on April 22, 2019 at 02:50 PM by LEAD Initiative
  • Engaging Student-Athletes: A Service Initiative Model from Elon University

    As many of you know, student-athletes on college campuses have incredibly rigorous schedules and commitments for practice, exercise, and travel beyond their academics. At Elon University, we found that these rigorous schedules were limiting student-athlete engagement in service-learning. The work of connecting with a community partner, coordinating schedules, and finding transportation was often a barrier from student-athletes accessing the opportunity to engage in the community in ways that other students did. In 2017, Elon University’s Athletics Department was awarded an NCAA four-year grant to enhance the department’s efforts to encourage and deepen student-athlete participation in the five Elon Experiences, one of which is service-learning.

    Posted on April 18, 2019 at 12:31 PM by LEAD Initiative
  • Meet the #CLDE19 Interns: Matea, Samantha, and Steven

    We are thrilled to introduce the three student interns for the 2019 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting (#CLDE19). As Matea, Samantha, and Steven 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.

    Posted on April 16, 2019 at 11:21 AM by LEAD Initiative

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