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The Democracy Commitment is the leading national organization focused on the civic education of community college students.   To such an end, TDC  is an excellent source of information on community college curricular change, how community colleges are educating and engaging students in our democracy, and ensuring that community college voices are heard and do matter in our society.  TDC National Office aims to expand public and student civic knowledge and understanding. Welcome to the National Newsroom

What's New with TDC

The quarterly newsletter from TDC’s National Office is published at least once every semester and contains updates on TDC’s latest work, announcements, opportunites, and news from member institutions.  See below for the most recent issues and archives of previous issues.

National Blog

Our national blog contains important news, updates, announcements, and opportunities from TDC National’s Office on a weekly basis.  Sign up for the mailing list to receive notifications when they posted and check it out frequently to stay up to date.  Contact the national director for opportunities to contribute.

ADP/TDC Electoral Engagement Resources: Electoral Engagement Apps

619-07799305Given the busy lifestyle of college students, it can be hard to stay informed about election coverage.  We’ve created a list of suggested smartphone apps as a part of our ADP/TDC Electoral Engagement Resources for students to stay up-to-date about the 2015 and 2016 elections.

The suggested apps cover a variety of information important for engaging students.  The apps are broken down into the following categories:


  • News Updates
  • Voting Information and Protection
  • Incumbent Records
  • Candidates and the Issues
  • Campaign Finance and Fact Checking
  • Public Opinion Information

Participating campuses are encouraged to advertise these election apps, making it easier for students to stay engaged on-the-go.

Download Electoral Engagement Apps (pdf)
Don’t forget:  National Voter Registration Day is September 22nd!

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS | Economic Inequality & Civic Engagement Conference Nov. 6 – 7 @ Lone Star College–University Park




Courtesy of John J. Theis, Ph.D, Lone Star College, Kingwood (TX)

Inequality is a major issue in the United States.  Working people on both the left and the right are apprehensive of the future: seeing their standard of living dropping, their jobs teetering precariously with threats of outsourcing and downsizing, and worrying about a country where their children and grandchildren will in all probability grow up with lower standards of living than they had.  Statistics support their concerns as workers’ wages have remained flat since the 1970s.  The latest data from the CIA world Fact Book ( shows that the United States is one of the few countries where income inequality is significantly worsening.  In addition, The United States has the highest level of inequality among industrialized democracies, rivaling the levels of inequality in Rwanda and Bolivia.  While industrialized democracies of Western Europe sit in the mid to low 30’s on the GINI Index, the United States sits at 45.  Even Russia, with all the talk of a new oligarchy emerging out of the old communist regime, boasts a level of inequality below the United States at 42.

Michael Morton from Harvard and Dan Ariely from Duke have done some interesting research showing that the vast majority of Americans are unhappy with the distribution of wealth preferring instead a distribution that mirrors the Scandinavian social democracies. This was true of all socio-economic groups.  (   The more disturbing finding coming out of that work is that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not realize just how unequal the United States has become. As the authors note, “our results demonstrate that Americans appear to drastically underestimate the current level of wealth inequality, suggesting they may simply be unaware of the gap.”  If Americans want a fairer society and fail to understand how unequal the society is a concerted effort must be made to educate Americans on the actual distribution of wealth.

As part of the joint ADP/TDC Economic Inequality Initiative, Lone Star College is proud to announce a conference aimed at precisely that goal.  In cooperation with University of Houston-Downtown and Tarrant County Community College –Southeast, we will be hosting a civic engagement conference to share the pedagogies and activities that colleges and universities are using to have discussions about inequality.  The conference on November 6th and 7th in Houston brings together students, faculty and staff from across the country to learn about economic inequality, share efforts being made on their campuses and in their communities.  Confirmed speakers are economists James Galbraith from the University of Texas and Dean Baker from the Economic Policy Institute as well as political scientists Benjamin Page of Northwestern and Nicholas Carnes of Duke.  Concurrent sessions will feature presentations from faculty as well as a dedicated student track.  This promises to be an informative and exciting conference and proposals are now being accepted.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal or would like additional information, please contact Dr. John J. Theis and Seth Howard.

For a conference flyer, please click here.

National Voter Registration Day | September 22, 2015

National Voter Registration Day is September 22, 2015!

Follow the conversation at #CelebrateNVRD on Twitter.

On September 22, 2015, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations from all over the country will “hit the streets” for National Voter Registration Day. This single day of coordinated field, technology and media efforts will create pervasive awareness of voter registration opportunities–allowing us to reach tens of thousands of voters who we could not reach otherwise.

Check out this virtual support mechanisms:

  • Action Network event mapping system for your voter registration event is coming up on Friday, August 21st at 2 PM ET.
    You can access it at 2PM ET on Friday, here (no RSVP necessary):

What is your campus planning for NVRD 2015? Let us know in the comments or email

ADP/TDC Electoral Engagement Resources: Guide to Informed Voting

619-07799305We’ve compiled a guide for college voters to help understand the persuasion mechanisms and campaign financing used by candidates in elections. The breakdown of these topics is meant to help student voters understand the factors used to influence public opinion and to help individuals begin making their own informed decisions.

The document is one of the engagement resources available for download on the ADP/TDC Electoral Engagement Resources webpage. It features several video links and images explaining or demonstrating tactics used by candidates and politicians.

ADP and TDC campuses are encouraged to distribute the PDF file to students for educating them about what to expect in the upcoming 2015 and 2016 elections.

Download Guide to Informed Voting (pdf)
Don’t forget:  National Voter Registration Day is September 22nd!

Constitution Day | September 17, 2015


In less than a month colleges and universities across the country will commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.

Although educational institutions in the United States that receive federal funding must observe Constitution Day, the real reason we celebrate it is to memorialize the creation of our democracy. This annual holiday is a day to pause and reflect on the birth of our democracy and to consider how we continue to forge an ever more perfect union together.

And this post is a reminder that Constitution Day is coming up on Friday, September 17, 2015.

If you need a little inspiration and want to read what some of your TDC colleagues did last year to commemorate Constitution Day, check out this blog entry.

If you are in need of resources, please visit the ADP resource page on Constitution Day.

And finally, if you already know what you are doing, we would love to hear about it.

Please take just a moment to fill out this short survey about your plans.

With this information, we will create a summary of 2015 Constitution Day activities and events to share with TDC participants and friends. Your response will provide an invaluable contribution.

New ADP/TDC Electoral Engagement Resources

619-07799305The Democracy Commitment has launched a new Electoral Engagement tab on the TDC website. Together, ADP and TDC have created five Electoral Engagement Resources to assist participating campuses in engaging students in the democratic process.

In addition to the ADP/TDC compilations, the webpage also includes links, toolkits and materials designed to engage student voters.

The collection of resources address:

  • Voting Registration
  • Election Education
  • Student Engagement
  • Engagement Projects/Outreach ideas for campuses

TDC institutions are encouraged to explore the new information and to continue to advance democratic engagement on their campuses.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS | Public: A Journal of Imagining America

“Recognizing Knowledge in Arts and Design Practice”
The Submission Deadline for Vol. IV, Issue I has been extended to September 15, 2015

By Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, ADP National Manager

This issue will challenge assumptions and politics that do not recognize knowledge production in arts and design practice.  Contributions will demonstrate instances of the arts and design as forms of creative research, and both pathways to and carriers of ideas and revelations.

The issue will also honor our late, beloved colleague, Randy Martin, member of Imagining America’s National Advisory Board and a great friend of Public. We welcome pieces that evoke, recognize, and honor his work, particularly as he broke barriers between practice and theory-based generation of knowledge.

Some of the questions to consider include:

  • How do we promote recognition of tools and techniques of the arts and design that serve multiple, cross-disciplinary purposes and produce new ideas and understandings?
  • How do representational forms-visual: 2-D, 3-D, and new media (image/spatial/virtual/ real-time/online); and oral and time-based practices (audio, performance, documentaries, etc.)-communicate across disciplines, in classrooms, studios, scholarly convenings, cultural spaces, and communities?
  • What do the arts and design contribute to, and how do they collaborate with, disciplines that are assumed to be scholarly?
  • How are or could arts and design practices be assessed and assigned value as research/scholarship?

This issue will be co-edited by Aimee Cox, Kim Yasuda, and Jan Cohen-Cruz, and designed by Kathleen Brandt and Brian Lonsway. We especially seek submissions that take advantage of our multi-modal format as an e-journal.

Public is contextualized by IA’s vision: publicly engaged artists, designers, scholars, and others, in and out of the academy, enriching civic life for all. We request the integration of the arts, humanities, or design in submissions and welcome contributors from academic, cultural, or community contexts.

For the journal’s mission statement, submission guidelines, and a description of the peer review process, please visit

On This Day | Voting Rights Act
Photograph of President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders look on, Washington, DC, April 6, 1965. (National Archives Identifier 2803443).

By Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, ADP National Manager

From the Civics Renewal Network:

50 years ago today — on Aug. 6, 1965 — President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed vote-suppression tactics adopted in much of the South after the Civil War. It also provided a legal avenue for court challenges of future voting restrictions.

In the summer of 1964, student volunteers from around the country joined organizers and local African Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in Mississippi, one of the nation’s most segregated states. This Freedom Summer webpage was created by the National Endowment of Humanities’ EDSITEment Project and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. It features historical background essays, bonus video of interviews with participants and original art work. Watch the entire film, Freedom Summer at the bottom of the Created Equal homepage.)

This lesson from the American Bar Association provides a brief overview of the historical evolution and expansion of voting rights in the United States. Students will discuss examples of previous “voting qualifications” used by states to deny minorities the right to vote. It offers opportunities to reflect on why the right to vote is important, and to appreciate the outcomes of constitutional amendments, Supreme Court decisions, and the Voting Rights Act in the expansion of this right.

For a complete list of voting resources from the Civics Renewal Network, click here.

For more information on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 from the National Archives, go here.

National Civic Learning Rubric Under Development


Note: ADP’s director Jen Domagal-Goldman has been selected to serve as one of the project team members to develop a new national civic learning rubric. 

In 2015, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, along with faculty and academic professionals from universities and colleges across the country will collaborate to create a national Civic Learning rubric. Following the VALUE Rubric Protocols developed by Wende Garrison and AAC&U, the national Civic Learning rubric will be suitable for institutional assessment of the civic content and knowledge students gain throughout their undergraduate education.

[Note: you can use the Civic Engagement VALUE Rubric for institutional assessment of the ability to make a difference in the civic life of our communities students gain throughout their undergraduate education.]

The project team is charged with the development of a civic learning rubric that aligns with the definition of civic learning adopted by the MA Board of Higher Education:

Civic learning means acquisition of the knowledge, the intellectual skills and the applied competencies that citizens need for informed and effective participation in civic and democratic life; it also means acquiring an understanding of the social values that underlie democratic structures and practices.

  • The knowledge component of civic learning includes an understanding of the United States, including its history and governmental traditions, other world societies, and the relationship(s) between and among these cultures and nations.
  • The intellectual skills component refers to qualities of mind necessary to engage effectively in civic activities.
  • The applied competencies component refers to the practical skills and capacities needed to engage effectively in civic activities.
  • The values component refers to understanding the social and political values that are associated with democratic and civic institutions.

Learn more about the development of the Civic Learning Rubric:

Meeting in Review | Breaking Through: Increasing civic engagement before, during, and after elections

By Gabriel Arteaga, TDC National Manager

Here at AASCU and at our TDC/ADP member institutions, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to increase our students’ interest in civic and political engagement. It is why last week’s convening of experts in technology, journalism, civics, and elections at the University of Texas at Austin for a one-day conference was so important.

As TDC’s National Manager, I was invited to this conference to contribute to the discussion about identifying new ways to increase civic and political engagement. The event was hosted by The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, which is an institute at UT Austin that was created to highlight the university’s public mission of creating a more conscious society.

In partnership with the Knight Foundation, which “supports quality journalism, advancing media innovation, engaging communities and fostering the arts,” the convening was an ideal place for the foundation to announce 22 projects that seek to provide voters with better information to become more informed and engaged participants in the democratic process. For a full list of Knight News Challenge awardees, please see their press release here.

This conference helped us to continue to think about what the next frontier could be in our line of work and how to effectively utilize technology to address and resolve complex social issues to garner more interest and motivate millennials to be well-informed citizens and leaders in their communities.

If you would like to re-live the conference and view a full agenda with a list of panelist and speakers, please visit the Annette Strauss Institute website for a link to the video recording of the conference and a PDF copy of their agenda here.