Building a Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Theory of Change

Posted by NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education on July 9, 2018


Recently Forbes published the last in a series of five essays we wrote together to amplify and invite conversations about the CLDE Emergent Theory of Change first shared widely at the 2017 CLDE Meeting in Baltimore. Because you have been partners and sources of inspiration for this work, we wanted to share the entire series with you, encourage you to share the essays as you see fit, and invite your feedback.

Hope And Strategy For A Thriving Democracy
We believe higher education and its partners in communities across America need a vision of civic learning and democratic engagement for our time: oriented to the thriving democracy we have not yet achieved, but can build together.

Civic Learning And Democratic Engagement For What? Envisioning A Thriving Democracy
There can be no single, simple antidote to the frustration and fatalism engendered by features of our common world. Yet we can imagine a new era in which higher education’s civic learning and democratic engagement work helps to unleash the latent energy of Americans yearning for inclusion, connection, and collective agency.

Civics Unbound: Knowledge, Skills, And Dispositions For A Thriving Democracy
In order to foster the democratic values we discussed in our previous post, institutions also must embody the civic ethos we hope will ultimately prevail in our society. Doing so is likely to involve relaxing our expectations relating to control and quantitative measurement, as well as intentionally eliminating some of the boundaries we have placed around our imaginations, relationships and learning processes.

Integral, Relational, Organic, And Generative: Pedagogy For A Thriving Democracy
Can we achieve our ambitious civic learning outcomes more effectively by planting more seeds and imposing less structure? We can begin answering that broad question by interrogating our current practices and considering some new possibilities.

A Gathering Of Hopes And Stories: Organizing For A Thriving Democracy
Despite being sobered by the magnitude of the challenge, the four of us are optimistic about the possibility of initiating meaningful changes in and through institutions of higher education. Our hope is grounded in experiences with community organizing and long-term change strategies, and in the recognition that champions of the democratic values and practices described in our previous essays in this series have extraordinary assets on which to build.

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