(The following announcement is from the David Mathews Center for Civic Life in Alabama.)
The Mathews Center is pleased to announce that registration for Teachers’ Institute 2015 is now open. Teachers’ Institute is an interactive, hands-on professional development experience designed to equip teachers with skills and tools to increase active civic learning in the classroom and beyond. The workshop will be held January 15 – 16, 2015 at the American Village, and A+ Education Partnership and Alabama Public Television will be co-sponsoring the event.
* The Mathews Center will reimburse substitute pay for all attendees. CEUs will be provided.
Coming Soon – An Issue Advisory – “Infectious Disease in America: How Do We Keep Our Communities Safe?”Posted: October 29, 2014
The Kettering Foundation has announced that work is underway on an issue advisory with the working title, “Infectious Disease in America: How Do We Keep Our Communities Safe?”
This issue guide is being prepared by the Kettering Foundation for the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), and will soon be available to download on the National Issues Forums website at http://www.nifi.org.
Watch for more details about this latest publication in a series of issue guides and advisories intended to help people deliberate about difficult national issues.
(From Harry Boyte, firstname.lastname@example.org)
White House Civic Summit on Higher Education
October 16 at Tufts University, the White House, working with the Department of Education, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Tuft’s Tisch College of Citizenship, organized a gathering on higher education’s civic purposes. It was called “The White House Civic Learning and National Service Summit.” Alan Solomont, former ambassador to Spain and now dean of Tisch College, gave an impassioned opening address on how democracy is endangered. Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Research and director of the CIRCLE research center, played a central role in organizing the meeting.
The meeting brought together about 50 White House aides, agency officials and staff, higher education leaders and community activists and leaders. Jonathan Greenblatt, director of citizen participation in the White House, and Robert Rodriguez, Obama education policy adviser, gave opening remarks.
The title of the gathering may have revealed a shrinking of the sense of possibility in the administration. The name of the event, “Civic Learning and National Service,” is smaller than the earlier meeting on which it built, “For Democracy’s Future,” at the White House in 2012.
But the discussions were animated and productive, and pointed to a crucial need for deeper dialogue with the public on the public aims and contributions of higher education.
Jamienne Studley, Deputy Under Secretary for Higher Education, made a strong pitch for the continuing bully pulpit role of administration officials in promoting change. Studley chaired a panel which including Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Richard Freedland, Commission of Higher Education in Massachusetts. Both discussed what has happened since the earlier White House meeting, January 12, 2012, when AAC&U unveiled the report, A Crucible Moment, commissioned by the Department of Education, calling for civic learning to become “pervasive” in colleges and universities. Perhaps the most significant development in the intervening time was the strategic plan developed among public universities in Massachusetts, which calls for pervasive civic learning and will evaluate presidents’ performance based on progress toward that goal.
“For Democracy’s Future” also launched the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP), a one year alliance to commemorate the 150th anniversary of land grant colleges. ACP developed strategies to revitalize the democracy story, purposes, and practices of higher education. In the session chaired by Andrew Seligsohn, new president of Campus Compact, I described these democracy initiatives. These include the initiative on civic science (described in the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harry-boyte/civic-science-renewing-th_b_5950972.html ), Citizen Alum, an effort to broaden alumni’s roles to “doers not only donors” coordinated by Julie Ellison of the University of Michigan, and the forthcoming book collection from Vanderbilt University Press, Democracy’s Education: Public Work, Citizenship, and the Future of Colleges and Universities http://www.amazon.com/Democracys-Education-Citizenship-Colleges-Universities/dp/0826520367
They also included a conversation in communities across the country on the purposes of higher education, “Shaping Our Future,” http://www.nifi.org/issue_books/detail.aspx?catID=6&itemID=21640 . “Shaping Our Future” was launched at the National Press Club on September 4, 2012, with Martha Kanter, Under Secretary for Post Secondary Education, David Mathews of the Kettering Foundation, Muriel Howard, president of AASCU, Nancy Canter, then Chancellor of Syracuse University, Bill Muse, president of the National Issues Forums and other leaders.
My take-away from the October 16th meeting was that the civic engagement movement in higher education has a more urgent sense of the importance of higher education’s contributions to revitalizing and deepening the democratic story, purposes, and practices of colleges and universities than two years ago. There is also great need, and new opportunities, to let people know about higher education’s public and democratic roles.
The group strongly supported the proposal of Barbara Vacarr, past president of Goddard College, that presidents need to articulate a bold vision of their colleges’ democracy role. Participants also agreed s with the remarks of Carolyne Abdullah of Everyday Democracy that faculty need to learn skills of collaborative partnership with communities, becoming democratic role models for students. But today the democracy identity of colleges is largely counter-cultural. While many pundits express alarm about higher education and its purposes, few mention any relation to democracy. For all the service-learning projects, community research and other important engagement efforts over the last two decades connecting higher education to communities and the society, the democracy history and purposes of higher education are now largely forgotten. Many colleges and universities advertise themselves as tickets to individual success.
In contrast, the Commission on Higher Education created by President Truman declared in its 1947 report, Higher Education for American Democracy, that “the first and most essential charge upon higher education is that at all levels and in all its fields of specialization, it shall be the carrier of democratic values, ideals, and process.” This reflected a broad national discussion growing out of land grant colleges, the City College of New York, community colleges and elsewhere that highlighted higher education’s multiple public roles.
In “Shaping Our Future” discussion and the listening process for a follow-up national deliberation, “The Changing World of Work: What’s Higher Education’s Role?”, on how colleges can be resources for communities in dealing with radical changes in work and workplaces, we have talked with thousands of citizens about their concerns.
We found wide sentiment that the current policy debate about higher education is too narrow and short term, focused on immediate issues like student debt, distance learning, and vocational education. These are important, but as people deliberate about options they express the conviction that today’s policy discussion neglects ways in which higher education needs to prepare students for a rapidly changing world and to make contributions to that world. We also discovered that while public knowledge of the once vibrant story of public contributions by higher education has largely disappeared, there is hunger for this narrative if people have the chance to learn it. The mood shifts from “me” to “we.”
Participants in the White House civic summit on October 16 believed that it is imperative for higher education to reaffirm its democracy purposes and educate about the democracy-building story of higher education. Our discussions with citizens outside higher education have shown that people will respond, but it takes a process of deliberation and discussion to acquaint the general public with this history and current examples.
Thus, there is great importance in the “Changing World of Work” deliberation. “The Changing World of Work” will be launched at the National Press Club January 21, 2015, by the Kettering Foundation, Augsburg College, host of the ACP, and the National Issues Forums.
Democracy’s advance can no longer be taken for granted, in the United States or around the world. Higher education needs to step up to the plate, communicating a much deeper and richer understanding of democracy in which citizens are the central agents, not simply elections where we select leaders to “do democracy” for us.
The following is excerpted from the article titled Whom Can You Trust? by Frank Fear. You can also read the entire article that was published in the LA Progressive.
It’s anybody’s guess when the public’s trust began eroding. There were instances, here and there, starting years ago. For many in my generation it began with the Nixon Years, especially “Watergate.” Today there’s a clear pattern of trust being debased…
Citizens need a way to consider public issues responsibly, collectively, and systematically. A time-tested strategy is available through The National Issues Forum Institute. It’s a structured and disciplined approach that begins with reliable background information about an issue—information that’s presented in nonpartisan form. Action options are then offered based on the background analysis. Citizens can use this information to engage in dialogue, then deliberation, to select an actionable solution that makes sense to them. The protocol can be used at multiple levels (organization, community, and beyond) and for a variety of purposes (e.g., for public policy and institutional goal-setting).
Citizens can’t do it all by themselves, though. The kind of progress we need requires changing how social institutions engage citizens, particularly in terms of how public sector and nonprofit professionals go about their work…
The following is excerpted from an October 8, 2014, Huffington Post article by Harry Boyte, Director, Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College. Contact Harry Boyte at email@example.com. Click here to read the entire post.
Science is not value neutral. It depends on democratic values of cooperation, free inquiry, and a commonwealth of knowledge. Before World War II, a broad group of “scientific democrats” including John Dewey and thousands of other scientists, described in Andrew Jarrett’s recent book, Science, Democracy, and the American University, helped to lead the movement for deepening democracy in America.
It is crucial to renew the explicit ties between democracy and science, declared Gerald Taylor, one of the nation’s leading community organizers, on October 2, to a diverse audience at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. Otherwise science can become a tool of oppression in extreme cases. The Nazis, after all, conducted first class scientific experiments – on human beings. So did the U.S. government, in the infamous Tuskegee experiment. Between 1932 and 1972 the U.S. Public Health Service intentionally infected a group of rural African American men with syphilis, who thought they were receiving free health care, to study the disease’s untreated progression.
Taylor spoke at a workshop on civic science at the National Science Foundation, October 2-3. The meeting brought together a diverse group of scientists, community organizers, political theorists, social scientists, humanities scholars, graduate students, leaders in cooperative extension, humanity centers and science museum directors, federal administrators, program directors from the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Health, and others. For two days the group discussed the relevance of science to the complex problems of our time and the future of democracy…
Seeking Nominations for the 2015 Penn State Democracy Medal
Each year, the Pennsylvania State University McCourtney Institute for Democracy gives a medal and $5,000 award for exceptional innovations that advance the design and practice of democracy. The medal celebrates and helps to publicize the best work being done by individuals or organizations to advance democracy in the United States or around the globe. The Institute gives medals in even-numbered years to recognize practical innovations, such as new institutions, laws, technologies, or movements that advance democracy. In odd-numbered years, the awards celebrate advances in democratic theory that provide richer philosophical or empirical conceptions of democracy. The Participatory Budgeting Project won the first medal in 2014 for the best innovation in the practice of democracy (see details at democracyinstitute.la.psu.edu).
Nominations will be accepted through December 10, 2014, and the awardee will be announced in the spring of 2015. The winning individual (or representative of a winning organization) will give a talk at Penn State in the fall of 2015, when they also receive their medal and $5,000 award. Between the spring announcement of the winner and the on-campus event in the fall, the Institute provides the recipient with professional editorial assistance toward completing a short (20-25 page) essay describing the innovation for a general audience. Cornell University Press will publish the essay, which will be available to the general public at a very low price in electronic and print formats to aid the diffusion of the winning innovation.
Award Review Process for Innovations in Democratic Theory
This year’s Brown Medal competition will recognize an exceptional advance in democratic theory, broadly construed. Submissions can include conceptual advances, moral philosophical insights, rhetorical, interpretive or historical theories, empirical or causal models, and/or innovations in the design of democratic processes. Innovating ideas, models, and designs have been instrumental in advancing democracy on both large and small social scales, both in recent years and over the centuries of democratic practice. Examples include new methods of voting and representation, new notions of civil and human rights, theories of political communication, polarization, social capital, and social movements, models of democratization and its impediments, and deliberative and participatory re-conceptualizations of democracy.
Nominations will be accepted through December 10, 2014, and the awardee will be announced in the spring of 2015. Recipients may be scholars, civic reformers, non-governmental organizations, or any other individual or entity responsible for the theoretical innovation. The winner (or the representative of the winning organization) will give a talk at Penn State in the fall of 2015, when we will also present their medal and $5,000 award. Between the spring announcement of the winner and the on-campus event in the fall, the Institute will provide the recipient with professional editorial assistance toward completing a short (20-25 page) essay describing the innovation for a general audience. In the fall, Cornell University Press will publish the essay, which will be available to the general public at a very low price in electronic and print formats to aid the diffusion of the winning innovation.
All nomination letters must be emailed by December 10, 2014 to firstname.lastname@example.org to guarantee full review. Initial nomination letters are simply a one-to-two page letter that describes the innovation, its author/s, and the accessible location of its fullest expression (e.g., in a scholarly article, magazine essay, or on the Internet). Both self-nominations and nominations of others’ innovations are welcomed. In either case, email, phone, and postal contact information for the nominee must be included.
By January, 2015, a panel composed of Penn State faculty and independent reviewers will screen those initial nominations and select a subset of nominees who will be notified that they have advanced to a second round. By the end of February, those in the second round will be invited to provide further documentation, which includes the following: biographical sketch of the individual or organization nominated (max. 2 pages); two letters of support from persons familiar with their theoretical innovation, particularly those who work independently from the nominee; a basic description of the innovation and its efficacy, with a maximum length of 30 pages of printed materials and/or 30 minutes of audio/video materials; and a one-page description of who would come to Penn State to receive award and who would draft the essay describing the innovation. The review panel will then scrutinize the more detailed applications and select an awardee by the end of April.
The theoretical innovation selected will score highest on these features:
- Novelty. The innovation is precisely that—a genuinely new way of thinking about democracy. It will likely build on or draw on past ideas and practices, but its novelty must be obvious.
- Systemic change. The theory, concept, or design should be able to change systematically how we think about and practice democracy. Conceptual insights should be of the highest clarity and quality, and empirical models should be rigorous and grounded in evidence. The practical significance of the innovation should be systematic, in that it can alter the larger functioning of a democratic system over a long time frame.
- Potential for Diffusion. The innovation should have general applicability across many different scales and cultural contexts. In other words, it should be relevant to people who aspire to democracy in many parts of the world and/or in many different social or political settings.
- Democratic Quality. The spirit of this innovation must be nonpartisan and advance the most essential qualities of democracy, such as broad social inclusion, deliberativeness, political equality, and effective self-governance. Nominees themselves may be partisan but their innovation should have nonpartisan or trans-partisan value.
- Recency. The award is intended to recognize recent theoretical accomplishments, which have occurred during the previous five years. The roots of an innovation could run deeper, especially as an idea or theory is developed and tested over time, but within the past five years, there must have been significant advances in its refinement or expression.
When choosing among otherwise equally qualified submissions, the review panel will also consider two practical questions. Who would give the lecture on campus and meet with the PSU community? Who would write the essay about the innovation? Neither needs to be the nominee, nor the nominator.
Individuals or organizations who have worked closely with the Institute’s director (Dr. John Gastil) or associate director (Dr. Mark Major) in the past five years are not eligible. For the first five years of the award (i.e., until 2019), Penn State alums or employees are also ineligible.