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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.

SAVE THE DATE: State of the Union (SOTU) 2015

Courtesy of the American Democracy Project Blog

Building on the success of last year’s State of the Union Tweet-Up, ADP and TDC have partnered with GVH Live and iCitizen to produce an interactive forum centered on live coverage of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address. The forum will stream live on www.gvhlive.com, and feature live-polling from iCitizen and reactions from faculty and students on ADP and TDC campuses.

GVH Live is a digital media start-up that strives to provide a platform for the millennial generation to express and debate views on politics, culture, society and economics. iCitizen is a polling application built to empower all citizens by giving them a real voice on the issues and legislation they find most important. Together with ADP and TDC, these organizations intend to bring you live event coverage that is interactive, educational and engaging.

The event’s coverage will focus on four major topics—income inequality, criminal justice, immigration and education. Discussion of each issue will feature an interview with an expert on the topic, broadcast live from a college campus in the D.C. area, and a Google Hangout that will bring the conversation to faculty and students on ADP and TDC campuses.

We encourage you to follow the livestream, which will be hosted on www.gvhlive.com, and participate through Twitter. Specifically, we are encouraging ADP and TDC campuses to hold State of the Union Address Watch Events so that students, faculty, staff and community members can discuss together their perceptions of the state of our nation and the work we need to do as informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. Livestream events will begin at 7 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, January 20th and end at approximately 11 p.m. Eastern.

More information will be forthcoming.

AASCU Spearheads National Initiative Focused on Economic Inequality

Courtesty of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) November 2014

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is spearheading a national effort to engage students in the topic of economic inequality and its impact on democracy through a three-year initiative. Leading the 30 participating institutions in this effort are Keene State College (N.H.) and Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) of Gardner, Mass.; all participants are members of AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP) or The Democracy Commitment (TDC).

Participating institutions will invite students and community members to confront the complex causes of economic inequality through the development of curriculum that will be applied to many areas of study and hands-on learning opportunities. Specifically, students will study the relationship between public policy, economic inequality, economic opportunity, and social mobility. These strategies, including the introduction of a course in economic inequality for students at two- and four-year schools, will be designed for further adoption by campuses across the country.

“AASCU is excited to assemble this group of two- and four-year institutions that together will examine and address the growing economic inequality in this country, a trend that poses a serious threat to our democracy,” remarked George Mehaffy, AASCU’s vice president of academic leadership and change.

“I am thrilled that Keene State College and MWCC are partnering with AASCU to involve students in discussions and experiences that demonstrate the ways that economic inequality affects our society—this issue is urgent and relevant to every state in our nation. The approach we are taking on this topic leverages critical thinking, community engagement, and academic preparation, which will make a real impact on our students now and in the years to come after graduation,” said Keene State College President, Dr. Anne Huot.

“We are proud to partner with AASCU, Keene State College, and colleges and universities across the country on this timely initiative,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “More than ever before, our students are graduating into a global society that is stratified across lines of economic class and political ideologies as much as they always have been across issues of gender, culture and religion. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that our students have the opportunity to think critically and creatively about these issues—and discover their own abilities to initiate change in areas of public policy, economic opportunity and inequality, and social mobility,” he said.

MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement and The American Democracy Project at Keene State College will spearhead national efforts, which also promote community outreach, civic pathways for student success, and prepare undergraduates for lives of informed civic engagement. Most activities will take place on participating campuses, with the two lead institutions providing support and networking by hosting national conference calls and webinars.

National Network of Participating Schools

In addition to Keene State College, four-year institutions include Buffalo State (SUNY); California State University, Chico; California State University, Monterey Bay; Cleveland State University; Dalton State College (Ga.); Ferris State University (Mich.); Indiana University Northwest; Missouri State University; Northeastern Illinois University; Northern Kentucky University; Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; Salisbury University (Md.); Slippery Rock University (Penn.); St. Cloud State University (Minn.); SUNY Cortland; Texas A&M University-Central Texas; University of Houston Downtown; Weber State University (Utah); Western Carolina University (N.C.); and Wright State University (Ohio).

In addition to MWCC, participating two-year institutions include Allegany College of Maryland; Kirkwood Community College (Iowa); Lone Star College, Kingwood (Texas); Manchester Community College (Conn.); Monroe Community College (N.Y.); Moraine Valley Community College (Ill.); Santa Fe College (Fla.); and Tarrant County College, Southeast Campus (Texas).

ADP and TDC, representing four- and two-year schools, respectively, create a variety of civic-engagement and academic-enrichment initiatives that encourage graduates to become informed, engaged participants in our democracy. TDC is modeled after ADP, and both organizations are sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

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About AASCU

AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

About Keene State College

Keene State College is a preeminent public liberal arts college that ensures student access to world-class academic programs.  Integrating academics with real-world application and active community and civic engagement, Keene State College prepares graduates to meet society’s challenges by thinking critically, acting creatively, and serving the greater good. To learn more about Keene State College, visit http://www.keene.edu.

About Mount Wachusett Community College

Mount Wachusett Community College is a public two-year institution recognized for its innovative K-12, civic engagement and workforce partnerships and its sustainability initiatives. MWCC’s 269-acre main campus is located in Gardner, Mass., and satellite campuses are located in Leominster, Fitchburg, and Devens. The college offers more than 45 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as adult basic education/GED programs, education and training for business and industry, and noncredit programs. To learn more about MWCC, visit mwcc.edu.

Note: This week, the participating institutions will gather in Washington, DC for a three-day initiative organizing institute.

#CLDE15 Update | Get Registered for the 2015 CLDE Meeting!

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

Last week we announced that the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) American Democracy Project (ADP), The Democracy Commitment (TDC) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education would be partnering via a combined national meeting, to be held June 4-6 in New Orleans, La. This week we are pleased to announce that both registration and the Call for Proposals (CFP) are now open and accepting submissions.

You can find more information about the 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA CLDE Meeting (including the meeting theme—Stewardship of Place: A Mission of Higher Education—and more details on the CFP) and register to attend here. We suggest you do so prior to Monday, April 27, 2015 to take advantage of our Earlybird Fee.

The deadline to submit a proposal was February 18, 2015 at midnight, it is now closed.

We continue to be excited about this partnership and are looking forward to reading your proposals.

See you in New Orleans!

#ADPTDC15 Update | We’re Going to Need a New Hashtag…

clde15

ADP, TDC & NASPA ANNOUNCE NEW PARTNERSHIP FOR 2015 CIVIC LEARNING & DEMOCRATIC ENGAGEMENT (CLDE) MEETING

Earlier this week, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) American Democracy Project, The Democracy Commitment (TDC) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education announced a partnership to strengthen and deepen both public and private institutional commitments to advancing the civic learning and democratic engagement of college students. Leaders from AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP), TDC and NASPA will provide direction for the partnership and the combined national meeting, to be held June 4-6 in New Orleans, La.

The associations are committed to ensuring that students graduate from institutions of higher education as informed, engaged citizens. This partnership will foster academic and student affairs collaborations in ways that promote seamless learning environments for students.

“The 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement Meeting combines two previously separate conferences in ways that allow the organizations to build momentum and energy around our collective work,” says Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, national manager of AASCU’s American Democracy Project.

“We continue the tradition of providing professional development opportunities that are true exchanges of knowledge and develop a sense of community around our shared civic learning and democratic engagement efforts,” says Stephanie Gordon, vice president for professional development at NASPA.

This year’s meeting theme, “Stewardship of Place: A Civic Mission of Higher Education,” will focus on partnerships between academic and student affairs; civic pathways; engaging diverse students; developing community partnerships; and assessment of civic learning and democratic engagement.

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AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

AASCU’s American Democracy Project is a national initiative focused on public higher education’s role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. The project began in 2003 in partnership with The New York Times and involves more than 250 colleges and universities.
The Democracy Commitment is a national initiative, housed at AASCU, providing a platform for development and expansion of community college programs, projects and curricula aiming at engaging students in civic learning and democratic practice across the country.

NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability ofthe student affairs profession. Our work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 14,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories.

AAC&U’s and TDC’s Bridging Cultures Project Briefing

Courtesy of Chad Anderson @ AAC&U

Supported through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and The Democracy Commitment (TDC) are leading a three-year curriculum and faculty-development project for ten community colleges.  These institutions are engaging faculty and administrators in intensive efforts to infuse questions about difference, community, and democratic thinking into transfer courses in the humanities; promote greater adoption of proven high-impact practices that advance important civic learning outcomes; create a series of humanities-enriched professional development opportunities for community college faculty, especially adjunct faculty; and expand the project’s impact through collaboration with additional community colleges and partnerships with state humanities councils.

The project launched with a week-long summer institute, July 29-August 3, 2012 at University of Vermont, Burlington, VT and also convened a culminating symposium in June 2014 in Louisville, KY in conjunction with the ADP/TDC National Meeting. In between, Bridging Cultures participants and staff have shared work and resources via myriad workshops and presentations at national AAC&U and TDC conferences as well as external events such as League for Innovation in the Community College and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education.

Project Webinars

  • Effective Practices for Incorporating Service-Learning into the Humanities,” Robert Franco, Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Kapi’olani Community College
  • “Project Recognition and Faculty Development,” Rowena Tomaneng, Associate Vice President of Instruction at De Anza College
  • “America’s Immigration History: A Nation of Nations,” Ramón Gutiérrez, Preston & Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor of American History and the College  at the University of Chicago
  • “Flip This: Community Colleges, Online Learning, and the Future of Civic Engagement in the Age of Disruption,”  Dan Butin, Dean of the School of Education, Merrimack College and Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Democracy
  • “Engaging All Stakeholders in Bridging Cultures,” Gwen Dungy, Executive Director Emerita, NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
  • “Bridging Cultures to Bring the World Home,” Caryn McTighe Musil, Senior Scholar and Director of Civic Learning and Democracy, AAC&U
  • “Building Sustainable Structures: Continuing the Bridging Cultures Work and Partnerships”—a conversation among Bridging Cultures participants (upcoming, November 2014)

Participating Campus Projects

Chandler-Gilbert Community College (AZ): The CGCC team developed two interdisciplinary first-year experiences, “The Humanities and the Democratic Imagination” (English composition, history, and humanities) and “Immigration, Nationalism, and E Pluribus Unum” (English composition, philosophy, and women’s studies).  They also convened a three-day Bridging Cultures faculty development institute for faculty in the Maricopa Community College system.

County College of Morris (NJ): Bridging Cultures “faculty fellows” developed new or revamped humanities courses in Communications, Cultural Geography, English, History, Spanish, and Photography. They also convened an interactive faculty forum, co-sponsored by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. This was an in-person workshop and webinar to CCM faculty and partner college participants from Mercer Community College, Middlesex Community College, and Raritan Valley Community College.

Georgia Perimeter College (GA):  Focusing on four disciplines, English, English As a Second Language, History, and Political Science, the GPC team developed and implemented engaged pedagogies:  collaborative learning, problem-based learning, service-learning, and problem-based research.  They also infused Bridging Cultures elements into the GPC Reads common book program and the Day of Service.

Kapi’olani Community College (HI): Kapi’olani created and launched an interdisciplinary, writing intensive learning community exploring Hawaiian Language, Speech, Hawaiian Art and Design, and Philosophy. The learning community fulfilled institutional learning outcomes in oral communication, sustainability, diversity, and writing.

Kingsborough Community College, CUNY (NY): Since Fall 2012, KCC has offered 99 class sections under the Bridging Cultures project, in which faculty redesigned and created new courses that explore themes of diversity, difference, and democratic thinking in their classrooms. Disciplines include art history, English literature, animation, history, environmental philosophy, philosophy, and political science. The KCC team also leveraged their involvement in the project to implement a civic engagement requirement campus-wide and convened a variety of co-curricular initiatives related to Bridging Cultures initiatives.

Lone Star College – Kingwood (TX): The team revamped courses in English Literature, Composition, ESL, and History to incorporate Bridging Cultures themes while also implementing more high-impact pedagogies.  The curricular innovations included introducing the “democratic syllabus” into classes to study-away components in history courses that engaged students in big questions around borderlands, cultural and national identity, democracy, and diversity.

Miami Dade College (FL): Team members infused Bridging Cultures themes into 84 class sections, reaching 3200+ students in courses such as Art History, Art Appreciation, Critical Thinking and Ethics, History, Philosophy, and Sociology. The team has also convened several faculty development workshops to help other MDC campuses weave Bridging Cultures themes into the curriculum.

Middlesex Community College (MA): Middlesex particularly focused on engaging contingent faculty, as over 75% of their humanities and social science courses are taught by this segment of instructors. They leveraged state-mandated requirements for civic engagement and democratic participation learning outcomes to get faculty enrolled in curriculum and professional development seminars around Bridging Cultures themes. Disciplines targeted included Anthropology, English Language Learning, General Humanities, Geography, History, Literature, Music, Philosophy, and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Mt. Waschusett Community College (MA): The team infused Bridging Cultures in introductory courses, service-learning programs, first-year experiences, and capstones. Naming participants “Bridging Cultures Faculty Fellows,” they have cumulatively revised 54 courses to incorporate Bridging Cultures themes, impacting 939 students and 20 humanities faculty.

Santa Fe College (FL): This team created and redesigned a number of courses and programs.  They created and passed through the curriculum committee a new interdisciplinary course entitled, “What Is a Good Life?” as well as an interdisciplinary module for International Relations modeled from Bridging Cultures themes around nation-building and identity. Courses in ethics and American humanities incorporated new service-learning components, and English composition courses included immigration literature and narratives to connect with the campus-wide Santa Fe Democracy Commitment theme of immigration policy for 2013-14.

For a PDF or printable version of this report, click here.

#e214 Reflections: My Day at the Polls

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

ivoted1On November 4, 2014, I went to the polls and not just to vote—to work them.

Yes, on Tuesday, I showed up at 6 a.m. (extremely large cup of coffee in hand) to a precinct in Northeast DC to volunteer as a check-in clerk for the Midterm Elections. Sixteen hours later, I headed home and did not move for the next 10 hours.

In addition to my surprise about how tiring sitting in a chair for 12+ hours and touching a computer screen could be, I observed a few things:

  • In the District of Columbia, it’s easy to vote, and I think that’s a good thing.
    If you can’t get out to vote (or don’t want to deal with the crowds) on Election Day, you can vote early or by absentee ballot. If you show up at the polls on Election Day in D.C., we don’t ask for identification, and whether it’s your precinct or not, you can still cast a ballot. Also, did you know that you can basically drive-thru vote these days? People who have circumstances or conditions that prevent them from coming in to vote at the polls can take advantage of a curbside service.
  • People prepare.
    I’ve always run with a bit of a politically oriented crowd; they were always the kids who discussed and debated candidates and legislation over coffee up until they went to the polls and as the returns came in. I thought they were the exception, not the rule. But as I checked in hundreds of voters this Election Day, I was surprised at the large number of people—especially young people—who came to the polls with handwritten notes about candidates and legislation, even for the small neighborhood commission races.
  • Everyone should work the polls at least once.
    Early start? Yes. Long day? Yes. Encounters with difficult people? Yes–though there was only one really bad one. However, I still think it was a very worthy endeavor. Not only did I end this Election Day feeling as though I had contributed significantly more than I usually do, but I learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes electoral process and the kind of voter that I want to be.

I encourage our TDC member institution faculty to not only work the polls if they have never done so but to encourage their students to get involved (and, if the need an extra incentive, it never hurts to tell a college student that there may be a little money involved).

Campusphere: Alamo Colleges, GCC, and TCC Get Their Vote On

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

TDC members across the country have had a lot going on when it comes to our Constitution and electoral politics. It all got started mid-September with Constitution Day (Sept. 17) and National Voter Registration Day (Sept. 23) and wrapped up this week with the Midterm Elections (Nov. 4).

Below is a rundown of some of the awesome events that have been taking place:

@ Guttman Community College

Guttman-CC-LOGO_Full_VerticalGuttman Community College kicked off Constitution Day with a bang on September 17th. Organized and sponsored by Guttman’s Trending News Update Club (TNU) in collaboration with Professor Marcus Allen, Program Chair of Urban Studies, the event was dubbed, Guttman Speaks: Why I Vote. Students were led through a presentation of constitution theory and the history of voting rights. The discussion steered by Dr. Allen, invoked critical discussion about why voting is important in light of the challenges and trajectory of disenfranchisement many Americans faced.

This conversation underscored that voting is perhaps one of the most important and impactful responsibilities of citizenship and we explored two areas of voting: 1) disenfranchisement through the eyes of youths and 2) ex-felony voter participation.

Six amendments that expanded the franchise since the founding of The United States’ Constitution were identified and explored to emphasize the Guttman In Actionimportance of voting by noting that nearly 1/5th of the amendments eliminated barriers to voting. Youth participation in election cycles since the passage of the amendment was stressed with a view to particularly illustrate the last two presidential, election cycles. Their participation in the voting process has proven to be an important contribution in the election of Democratic candidates recently with the election of President Barack Obama, and Republican candidates, particularly President Ronald Reagan. The discussion around ex-felon voting access centered on the various levels of difficulty that varies widely among state governments. Students were surprised to see that nearly 5.4 million Americans have either permanently lost their right to vote or have significant hurdles to reclaim the right. Professors Gary Greaves and Paul Naish were also instrumental in fielding questions and guiding the debate and discussions which ensued.

Students were treated to a short video presentation created by SGA Senator Richard Persaud, which launched an exciting debate and Guttman’s participation in CUNY Votes. The video can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/106348991. Associate Director of Leadership, Manny Lopez then introduced the Guttman Essay Writing Contest, “Why Your Vote Matters”, encouraged students to attend CUNY sponsored National Voter Registration Day at City Hall Park 9/23/14, and informed students about how to register to vote. The Essay Writing Contest is designed to allow Guttman’s students to analyze and express the importance of voting in a democratic, political system.

@ The Alamo Colleges

Alamo Colleges LogoThe Alamo Colleges TDC celebrated Constitution Day and National Voter Registration Day on September 17 and September 23 with a series of voter registration drives resulting in over 120 completed voter registration applications from students at Northwest Vista College, one of the five Alamo Colleges located in San Antonio, TX.
Alamo Colleges Photo
The voter registration drives were being offered in conjunction with voter education activities, including a planned Texas Governor’s Debate watching party on September 30 during which students enjoyed free pizza while watching Democrat Wendy Davis square off against Republican Greg Abbott.

As Texas has one of the lowest voter registration and participation rates in the country, The Democracy Commitment at Alamo Colleges is aiming to turn around these trends within their college communities.

 @ Tunxis Community College

On Monday, September 29, 2014 four panelists spoke about an aspect of the debate on the legalization of marijuana and the U.S. Constitution. The panelists were Professor of History Robert Brown, Professor of History Fran Coan, Professor of Criminal Justice Ren Marchand, and Professor of History Rafaele Fierro. The topics covered an aspect of the topic including the historical perspective centered on the 18th Amendment, the issue of federalism, and law enforcement. Professor Robin Knowles moderated the event.

Click here to watch the video.