Civic Engagement at CCAC
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Civic Engagement at CCAC
Spring 2013 All College Day Conference
Dr. Aaron Hoffman
Associate Professor of History at Boyce Campus
Coordinator for The Democracy Commitment at CCAC
The Democracy Commitment is a 2011 national
initiative that emphasizes that community colleges, along with providing job training or general
education, have an obligation to educate about democracy and to engage students in both an
understanding of civic institutions and the practical experience of acting in the public arena.
A healthy democracy depends on engaged citizens, proud of their rights, thoughtful about their responsibilities, and informed about their choices.
Thomas Jefferson put it simply: An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.
The condition of the republic today is marked by a national politics driven by bitter partisanship. Our discourse is marked by an unwillingness to listen to one another.
At the same time, many of our citizens lack basic knowledge of the civic and democratic institutions through which democratic power is exercised. Too few vote, too many are alienated from a process they believe irrelevant, too many are doubtful about their ability to change the circumstances of their lives.
What is Civic Engagement at CCAC?
We have a broad definition of Civic Engagement at CCAC
Any activity that encourages students to become active citizens on their campus, in their community, or in the wider world
Examples of Civic Engagement
Voter Registration drives
Student clubs and associations volunteering efforts
United Way Campaign
One example: Civic Engagement requirement in an online
U.S. History II Course Students are required to be involved with their
community or campus in some meaningful way outside the digital classroom
5% of class grade (10% in Spring 2013)
Verification of activitya photograph, a screen capture image, or a scanned document
One page self-reflective essay on their activity (two pages in Spring 2013)
Due before finals week
Suggested Activities to Students Serve as a poll worker
See Allegheny County Elections Division or your own local county.
Create a team and compete in Fantasy Politics (It is based off the idea of fantasy
football/baseball) Write a letter to your local newspaper concerning a community issue Write and mail a letter to a public official concerning an issue in your community See ADVANCEPA
Write three emails to public officials concerning an issue in your community
Attend a political or a protest meeting or rally Participate in a community blood drive
Visit a historical site or museum
More Suggested Activities
Conduct an oral history of a veteran for the Library of Congress
Volunteer for two hours in your community
See Pittsburgh Cares for opportunities
Be an active member of a college student life club or organization
Post a thoughtful and substantial comment to ten of the weekly questions posted on a CCAC Democracy Board or to the CCAC Democracy Board Facebook page
Other Examples of Civic Engagement in the Classroom
Earth Science professor has students visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural Historys Benedum Hall of Geology to view Pittsburgh geology and write a reflective essay on the experience.
English professor has students create visual narratives about their interactions with individuals from a local school for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The CCAC students also write an analysis of the visual narratives and a self reflection essay on their experience.
History of Western Civilization professor has students take pictures of examples of ancient and medieval architecture in buildings in the Pittsburgh area and present them to the class.
Reading [or civic engagement] without reflection is like eating without digesting (Edmund Burke)
Reflection will transfer the civic engagement activity into a learning experience
Civic engagement without critical reflection is missing a key learning component
Students often have different views and understandings of democracy, citizenship, and politics.
Having them complete a reflection assignment on their civic participation fosters a development of what these terms means to them. Along with increasing civic awareness, the reflective process develops critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Some possible assessment methods include: journal entries, self-reflection essays, class presentations, video journals, photo essays, or portfolios.
As you plan your spring syllabi PLEASE consider a civic engagement component to your class.
What did you do for civic engagement?
When and where did it take place?
What did you learn from the experience?
Did it change your view of yourself or your community?
Civic Engagement Toolkit
CCAC civic engagement website
examples of civic engagement activities
CCACs Democracy Board
Should photo identification be required to vote in Pennsylvania?
Should children of illegal immigrants be citizens of the U.S.? "All persons born... in the United States... are citizens of the United States...." Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
Should the drinking age be lowered to 18?
Do you believe that climate change is a result of human actions?
Should the U.S. Senate filibuster rule be reformed or abolished?
As Michigan is set to become the twenty-fourth right-to-work state, do you support right-to-work laws?
Just put CCAC Democracy Board in a Google search
Additional Resource for the Democracy Board
Student Username: 40072
Student Password: pgnie2
Professor Username: 40071
Professor Password: pgnie2
Why Civic Engagement? An educated person is one who acquires:
a broad range of knowledge upon which to make value judgments; the skills to locate valid information and comprehend that information; the ability to analyze critically and synthesize efficiently valid information; and the ability to listen carefully and to communicate effectively
(CCAC 2012-13 College Catalog, page 1)
The reasons for offering civic engagement opportunities to students should sound familiar since they align with the good practices of assessment and the evidence from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement.
1. Meaningful civic engagement activities provide students with opportunities to talk about issues and develop important life-skills.
2. Higher levels of student engagement are linked to outcomes such as better grades and higher completion rates. (See CCSSE Validation Study.)
3. Participating in civic engagement activities will help students develop the skills valued by employers.
4. Students are looking for meaning in their educational experiences. The more we can connect what they are learning to the real-world, the more likely they will persist with their studies.
Mary Kate Quinlan, Civic Engagement, Achieving the Dream Newsletter, 5 (August 2012): 1
A Crucible Moment
The National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement. 2012. A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracys Future. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.
A Crucible Moment