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TDC Newsroom

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.

Expanding on the Traditional College student

Community college students are usually considered “non-traditional” compared to their four year undergraduate peers; non-traditional, in the sense that they could be one, two, or all of the following: juggling 2-3 jobs, have kids, married, older, first in their family to pursue higher education, a minority, recent immigrant. (Due to economic changes this label identifying community college students is starting to change and the term “traditional student” is becoming obsolete. These students – once seen as merely working toward a vocation – must now be seen as the rising norm, and community college focus must shift to one of work, to one of employment as a citizen in a democratic society.

Community college students represent 45% of the undergraduate population, based on the research by Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition, 44% of low-income undergraduate students (families whose income is less than $25,000) attend community college. 50% of Hispanic students start at a community college and 31% of African American students. 57% of first-time college students within their family and coming from a low-income household attend community college. As the statistics show, these students are often the politically and socially marginalized and poor.

With the growing income gap in the US and the rising cost of a 4-year education we might be seeing more and more students in community colleges. A recent article by a community college professor, published by Atlantic Magazine, highlights the changing demographics in community colleges. The author discusses the increasing presence of young students in his classes, as opposed to the non-traditional older student he expected. This only indicates we need to pay even more attention to this growing community college population.

Community college students may often have non-traditional paths to higher education but increasingly these paths are becoming commonplace. As the population in community colleges grow more diverse, institutions need to emphasize the need for the students to be more civically involved. The needs of college students are changing as its demographics are too. Influencing policy can be achieved in numbers. Our engagement in policy making can shift the desperate environment for education, which, through community colleges, is now more accessible to everyone. And in a democracy, everyone must be heard.


Guttman CC

COMMUNITY DAYS are a two-day event of workshops, community-based learning and academic service-learning involving all Guttman students. In conjunction with the Fall semester of the City Seminar course taken by all first-year students, “Sustainability and Climate Change” is the theme of this semesters’ COMMUNITY DAYS. With keynote speakers, workshop options and wrap up sessions all led by NY-based experts in issues related to the theme, students participate along with the facilitation of Peer Mentors.

On the second day of COMMUNITY DAYS, all students and several staff participate in a day of service in one of the 5 NY City boroughs, volunteering with non-profits, city government, and advocacy organizations dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability. Guttman partners with New York Cares to help orient and prepare students for meaningful service.

All second-year students choose a community-based learning experience relevant to the courses in their majors or offering further exploration of a topic introduced in one of their current courses. Reflective assignments are posted in students’ ePortfolios as they connect their COMMUNITY DAYS experiences to learning outcomes.

Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund – Grant Applications Now Being Accepted

Grant Applications Now Being Accepted – Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund

Funding for deliberative forums work. Applications due by November 15, 2013.

Applications are now being accepted for grants from the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) to enable individuals to develop an understanding of deliberative democracy and to launch one or more deliberative forums in their communities or organizations. Grants are expected to be in the range of $500-1,000.

Applications should consist of: (1) a completed application form — click here for a copy; (2) a resume describing your experience and education; (3) a cover letter that explains why you are interested in becoming involved in the deliberative democracy movement and what specific course of action you propose to become familiar with this work and how and where you would implement forums; and (4) a budget indicating how the grant would be spent.

Applications are welcomed from any U.S. resident, with special consideration given to residents of Texas. The application should be received on or by November 15, 2013.  Applications may be either faxed to Bill Muse at 937-428-5353 e-mailed to, or mailed to:

National Issues Forums Institute
100 Commons Road
Dayton, Ohio 45459

For more information from NIFI regarding the funding, click here.

Grants will be made by January 15, 2014 and will be for use during 2014. A report on activities will be required on or before November 30, 2014.

Click here for more information about Taylor L. Willingham and her work.

Donations to the fund are welcome and can be made securely online. All donated money will go toward grant awards.

TDC Welcomes Shasta College

TDC is happy to welcome Shasta College as a new member institution!

Shasta College has been making strides in incorporating civic engagement into their student community as well as through course curriculum. Shasta’s mission statement stating “students are provided opportunities to practice and improve critical thinking, effective communication, quantitative reasoning, information competency, community and global awareness, self-efficacy, and workplace skills,” is aligned perfectly with the mission of TDC, utilizing democratic practice as a pedagogical tool for necessary and important 21st century skills, and enhancing active citizenship among students. Their Center for Community Engagement aims to integrate various forms of student engagement into academic curriculums. These include: volunteerism, service learning, community service, alternative spring/summer breaks, and field education work. The mission statement of the Center states, “our mission is to foster a learning community that facilitates learning for civic engagement in our local and global communities; and that addresses societal challenges through long-term sustainable partnerships through community engagement.”

Glendale Community College – Civility Week

GlendaleCCcivilityWeekCivility Week at GCC, Oct. 21-25, will raise awareness about the functions and practices of a civil society by providing learning opportunities to gain knowledge and enhance understanding of a respectful, honest, just, fair and inclusive community.

GlendaleHashTagThe week features themed events that involve students and employees including:

  • 20 in-person sessions with integrated assignments,
  • separate tracks for students and employees,
  • a video competition,
  • a democracy plaza,
  • and a community service fair.

Each day’s events focus on an issue or subject that highlights how we engage in civil behaviors:
Monday: Diversity and Inclusiveness
Tuesday: Equality
Wednesday: Celebrating Individuality
Thursday: Justice
Friday: Building Community Service

Click on the images below for a more detailed look of Glendale Community College’s Civility Week schedule or click here. You can also view our Calendar of Events for a view of details per day:
October 21
October 22
October 23
October 24
October 25

Glendale CC - CiviltyWeekAgenda_1

GelndaleCC - CiviltyWeekAgenda2



How To Enter the Video Competition

Make a short video (up to 3 minutes) on the topic of “Civility in Action” and you could win $100! Post it to Vine, Instagram or YouTube with the hashtag #GCCcivility.

What to submit: A video that demonstrates “random acts of civility” or perhaps what happens when there is no civility. Entries may be humorous, poignant, thought-provoking, or profound.

Who can enter: Any student, employee, group, club, class or department. The submission must be made by a person who has a direct connection to GCC.

Judging criteria: Videos will be judged on creativity and overall quality of the message.

Deadline: October 11, 2013 with the winners announced during Civility Week.

Prizes: First, $100; Second, $75; Third, $50

How to Enter: Submit entries by posting on Vine, Instagram or YouTube with #GCCcivility, or submit a disk or flash drive to the Office of Student Life in the Student Union. For more information contact

All video entries become property of Glendale Community College upon submission. Posting your Vine, Instagram or YouTube video with the tag  #GCCcivility designates your entry into the contest. Entering in the contest waives your right to the photo and caption or quote for any future inspection and/or approval of future use by Glendale Community College or MCCCD. Videos entered could subsequently be used in other means of communication (including but not limited to marketing efforts and advertising via Web, print, video, audio or television) by Glendale Community College or MCCCD.
Civility Week is sponsored by Terros, the Maricopa Center for Civic Participation, the GCC Student Leadership Center, the GCC Speakers Forum and the GCC Behavior Intervention Team.

Inside Higher Ed Interviews Amee Bearne

The article entitled, “New Faces of Civic Learning” by Allie Grasgreen published by Inside Higher Ed on October 9, 2013 highlighted the important roles of non-traditional students civic learning. Colleges and universities who have high amount of commuter students, usually public schools and mostly community colleges, are likely the ones lacking in adequate support and infrastructure for student engagement. TDC National Coordinator, Amee Bearne points out, “”[Students] don’t see their community college as a vocational one, but rather a way in which they could get an education that is cost-effective as well as exceptional.” But civic learning is growing prominence in public institutions as administrators realize the success rate of their students are affected by engaging them with their own community.

Webinar: Community Colleges and The Democracy Commitment Initiative

Webinar with TDC Co-Founder:

Brian Murphy
De Anza College


Community Colleges and The Democracy Commitment Initiative

October 23, 2013     12:00-1:30 PM (Eastern)

About this Session:

American community colleges are critical in preparing students for their roles as citizens and engaged members of their communities.  Community colleges are the gateway to education for millions who might not otherwise obtain a postsecondary education, and community colleges are rooted deeply in local communities that need the civic leadership and practical democratic capacity of students for their political and social health.  This webinar will examine how The Democracy Commitment (TDC)—a national, 20-state initiative—provides a platform for developing and expanding community college programs, projects, and curricula aimed at engaging students in civic learning and democratic practice across the country. The goal of TDC is that every graduate of an American community college will have had an education in democracy.

About the Presenter:

murphyBrian Murphy is President of De Anza College in Cupertino, California. He was Director of the San Francisco Urban Institute at San Francisco State University, after serving as Chief Consultant to the California State Legislature’s Review of the Master Plan for Higher Education in the late 80′s. Murphy taught political theory at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara University, and San Francisco State, and has served on city commissions and non-profit boards in San Francisco. He received a B.A. (Williams College), and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees (University of California, Berkeley), all in Political Science.

Fall 2013 Virtual Think Tank Program


Fall 2013 Virtual Think Tank Program

NERCHE’s Virtual Think Tanks are webinars, or virtual discussions, designed to engage higher education practitioners in the exploration of collaborative change processes which address social justice in a diverse democracy.

These virtual discussions are intended to be useful whether participants are developing long-term strategic change efforts on their campuses or thinking about immediate programming and teaching issues.

Learn More About Virtual Think Tanks


Participants can register for a single Virtual Think Tank session or NERCHE’s three-part Virtual Think Tank Series.  A series examines common themes or issues in higher education from multiple perspectives.  NERCHE offers three series for the fall of 2013:

Learn More About The Series


To participate in a single Virtual Think Tank, click on the “Register Here” links in the session descriptions below. To register for any of the three series, click here.

The registration fee for participation in each real time Virtual Think Tank session is $300. The fee for participation in one of the three Virtual Think Tank series is $810, a 10 percent discount. NERCHE also offers recordings of past sessions for $200 and recordings of past series for $540.

For more information on payment methods and technology requirements, please see our Virtual Think Tank FAQ’s.


Session Descriptions

October 9, 2013
Susan Sturm

George M. Jaffin Professor of Law and Social Responsibility, Columbia Law School
This webinar will explore ways to frame the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. The University of Texas so that higher education institutions and their partners can serve as engines of mobility, leadership, knowledge generation, and public problem solving.
Register this individual event here.
October 16, 2013
The Carnegie Foundation Elective Community Engagement Classification: Strategies and Approaches for Documenting Engagement

Emily Janke
Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
John Saltmarsh

Co-Director, New England Higher Education Resource Center
This webinar is intended for campuses that are applying for the 2015 Elective Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Register this individual event here.
October 23, 2013
Community Colleges and the Democracy Commitment Initiative

Brian Murphy
President, De Anza College
This webinar will examine how The Democracy Commitment-a national, 20-state initiative-provides a platform for developing and expanding community college programs, projects, and curricula aimed at engaging students in civic learning and democratic practice across the country.
Register this individual event here.
November 6, 2013
Desegregation and Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Elizabeth Lundeen
Ph.D. Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Moving beyond the iconic legal victories by lawyers of the NAACP, this webinar will focus on the impact of desegregation lawsuits on historically black colleges and universities beginning in the 1930s. Specifically, the presentation will highlight the case of North Carolina College for Negroes-the predecessor to North Carolina Central University.
Register this individual event here.
November 13, 2013
Caryn McTighe Musil
Senior Scholar and Director of Civic Learning and Democracy Initiatives, Association of American Colleges and Universities

This webinar will examine why contemporary redefinitions of civic learning outcomes are so necessary to integrate as an expected dimension of college for every student today, whatever the specialization.

Register this individual event here.

November 20, 2013
Anne Blaschke  
Visiting Assistant Professor, Bridgewater State University
This webinar will examine the history of women college students and administrators who advanced gender parity and human rights through college athletics and will consider the implications of their experiences for current educational policy.
Register this individual event here.
December 4, 2013
Kimberly Burns
Associate Dean  for K-16 Partnerships, Middlesex Community College
This webinar will first briefly review the context of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) at the community college.  It will then present the results of a study of community college faculty from around the country who engaged in a SoTL classroom research project.
Register this individual event here.
December 18, 2013
Michael Bernstein

Provost, Tulane University

This webinar considers how colleges and universities can integrate faculty engagement in academic-review processes and emphasizes the importance of expanding institutions’ understanding of the traditional review categories of research, teaching, and service to reflect achievements and successes in the area of public engagement.

Register this individual event here.

January 15, 2014
Andres Reyes

Professor, Bunker Hill Community College

This webinar will share findings from a narrative inquiry of the community college experience of unaccompanied refugee minors from South Sudan a decade after arriving in this country with interrupted educations, cultural adjustment challenges, and language needs.

Register this individual event here.

Democracy Wall: Who’s Ready to Do the Same?

From late 1978 to early 1979 a section of the walls in the Forbidden City were plastered with posters, right next to a bus station, a popular venue for people to hangout and exchange ideas.

Democracy Wall
Image via Daryl McCann

The posters contained cautiously expressed complaints on the prevalence of poverty and suffering among the Chinese citizens. It wasn’t until Wei Jingsheng posted his essay on the wall entitled, “The Fifth Modernization”, that the wall became truly prominent as a platform for democracy. His essay was a response and criticism to Deng Xiaoping’s Four Modernization development campaign. The essay stressed the need for inclusion of some fundamental freedoms, which arguably could only help achieve a better standard of living for all. In addition, Jingsheng argued that economic growth could be a rewarding result to these fundamental freedoms.

“The Fifth Modernization” sparked a more widespread and direct criticism of the Chinese government through essays from other authors and public outpouring. The success of this act of dissent can be attributed to its worldwide prevalence. Other activists from different countries have used a similar platform to give voice to opinions against their governments.

To this day, the significance of the Democracy Wall stands ground as a growing civic movement, even as some societies struggle to express the freedom to challenge the political, social, and economic statuses of their countries. The global reach of social media, news, and blogs is the 21st century version of the Democracy Wall. The internet is a global democratic process, although, availability is different in all countries with some countries limiting access due to government control while others have a population that can’t afford the technology. Our best reminder to the power of the internet as a tool for democratic action is the Arab Spring.

egypt protests
Image via REUTERS / Business Insider

This modern day revolution was sparked through conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and blog sites. These websites were tools for revolutionaries to organize protests instantaneously, resulting in the participation of thousands of people in the streets. Whether the uprising had great results or not, social media is here to stay because it affects daily living and information sharing.

Beyond the virtual world, colleges and universities across the country are building their own Democracy Walls in an effort to engage students across all disciplines in questions surrounding policy, society, and personal life. A TDC member institution, Mount Wassuchetts Community College, participated in the Democracy Wall movement with their own interactive wall back in February 2013. It was their first attempt at this specific civic engagement tool and immediately caught the attention of hundreds of students.

Mt Wachusett democracy wall
Image via Mount Wachusett Community College

As community colleges grow in population and diversify in demographics it would be valuable for institutions to adapt a safe space for freedom of political thought. Students should have the space to learn from their peers’ different ideas surrounding government action and societal change. Schools are a place to learn and experiment with ideas; a Democracy Wall is a powerful expansion of the learning environment.

Where could your school build its own Democracy Wall?

Guttman Experiential Learning in Far Rockaway

Guttman CC

By: Carolee Ramsay
Student Engagement Coordinator
Stella and Charles Guttman Community College (CUNY)
On Community Day, April 18th, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College students, in partnership with New York Cares, gave residents food items at the Church of Nazarene, Far Rockaway.
On Community Day, April 18th, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College students, in partnership with New York Cares, gave residents food items at the Church of Nazarene, Far Rockaway.

Guttman Community College’s (formerly known as New Community College) second Community Days kicked off on Wednesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 18, 2013. Students participated in on-campus workshops and off-campus service activities hosted by partners from around New York City. In keeping with its commitment to experiential learning and its goal of using the city as an extension of the classroom, the Community Days have an integral part of the curriculum.

On April 18th, Guttman students joined one of its many partners, New York Cares, to help distribute food items to residents of Far Rockaway, one of the areas largely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Next Community Days will take place on October 22-23.






  • For more information on Community Days at Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, contact Rochel Pinder-Cuffie, Director, Office of Partnerships and Community Engagement at and Claire King, Assistant Professor, Experiential Education & Service Learning at