Educating for Democracy Series

Civic learning and democratic engagement

Join members of the campus community as we rekindle an examination of the roles, opportunities, tensions, and tools to foster civic learning and democratic community engagement in higher education.

As a nation, we find ourselves in a historical moment where our beliefs about what binds us together as a democratic society are under threat. Education plays a critical role in preparing us for the work of democracy—not just at the ballot box, but in our homes, neighborhoods, classrooms, and workplaces.

Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.

John Dewey, Democracy and Education
  • How effectively are we playing our role as handmaids of democracy?
  • What’s working well across campus, where are the gaps, and what do we want to dream and build together?
  • How are other campuses and communities tackling these issues?
  • And, what are small changes that we can make individually and collectively in our work to make civic learning and democratic community engagement visible?

Learn about this spring's offerings and register for a workshop

Date: February 20, 2020

Time: 12:00–1:00 p.m.

Location: Webinar

Civic learning is a form of integrative learning that supports students, as citizens and professionals, for lives of informed and active participation in society. Arguably, civic learning is a pervasive element of much of the teaching we do in universities. However, it often lies dormant inside many of our most common learning goals such as critical thinking, communication, and quantitative reasoning skills. Making our courses “civic-rich” can help students explore and examine their experiences in light of larger public purposes, adding relevance to concepts that can feel abstract. In addition, civic learning can be cultivated using a variety of high-impact practices. In this webinar, participants will be introduced to civic learning frameworks and strategies to make it visible in their disciplinary and general education courses.


Date: March 2, 2020

Time: 3:30–4:45 p.m.

Location: UL1116

Facilitators: Dr. Patti Clayton and Dr. Mary Price

We don’t often think of assessment as part of democratic practice. Not surprisingly, the experience of assessment often produces a sense of alienation among many of us and can work against our larger goals—including our aspirations for equity, inclusion, and social change—by contradicting our intent or interfering with the trust and respect that engaged work depends on. Democratically Engaged Assessment (DEA) is a research-based framework that puts the values of democratic engagement front and center by calling for full participation and co-inquiry among stakeholders in designing, implementing, and making meaning of assessment. 

In this session, we will explore the question of how we can make assessment be less hierarchical and more about partnership. We will share tools and resources aligned with DEA as well as tap the wisdom of the room to enhance our collective work. Whether you have an interest in assessing student learning, community change, partnership quality, institutional impact, or your own growth, please come be part of the ongoing development of this empowering and potentially transformative body of work.


Date: March 3, 2020

Time: 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Location: UL1116

Facilitators: Dr. Patti Clayton and Morgan Studer

High-impact practices, while engaging and experiential in nature, require more than just experience to deepen student learning. A key tenet of HIPs done well is well-designed critical reflection to help fulfill the practices’ potential to generate learning, support inquiry, guide action, and lead to change. Perhaps you have been using HIPs for some time now and bring an understanding and practice of critical reflection into your work. Perhaps you are newer to HIPs and are trying to wrap your mind around the role of and best practices for critical reflection. Perhaps you are just curious whether your practice of reflection is the best it can be.

No matter where you land in terms of experience with and knowledge of critical reflection best practices, this session will be a valuable learning opportunity to deepen your practice alongside other colleagues engaging in HIPs work. In this interactive, hands-on workshop, we will explore very concretely the why, what, and how of critical reflection. Facilitators Patti Clayton (longtime Senior Scholar with the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning and internationally renowned experiential learning scholar) and Morgan Studer (director of faculty and community resources with CSL) will introduce a conceptual framework for critical reflection and a particular approach—the DEAL Model—that can be used with any learners, in any context, to generate and to provide evidence of learning. We will examine sample critical reflection assignments, a tool for giving feedback, and two types of rubrics, leaving the session with concrete, practical, and research-grounded ideas for critical reflection. If you have worked with Patti or Morgan before, be assured that you will receive updated resources and hear new ideas. Participants will have the opportunity to share a current reflection assignment for feedback during the workshop if desired and to join a follow-up remote working session with Patti and Morgan in April.  


Date: Thursday, March, 26

Time: 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.

Location: Hine Hall 234D

Facilitators: Dr. Mary Price and Morgan Studer

Civic Soup is a reading and discussion meet-up where we address timely issues in civic engagement as well as engagement and engaged scholarship. Oh, and of course there will be soup!

This month’s topic: at this meet up, we will discuss issues and recommendations issued by the National Taskforce on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement in their 2012 landmark report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future. As we look toward the 2020 election and the increased polarization in our classrooms, businesses, neighborhoods, and abroad, we are raising the question of public higher education’s role in animating democracy. Bring a colleague and join us as we discuss questions raised in this report, in particular, the case for making civic literacy and civic inquiry core expectations for learning across the disciplines. Given the state of our democracy, what is higher education’s role in supporting a healthy democratic culture? What matters to you about this issue as an educator, advocate, or scholar? How are you responding to the calls to action issued in the report to:

  • Foster civic ethos across all parts of campus and educational culture
  • Make civic literacy a core expectation for all students
  • Practice civic inquiry across all fields of study
  • Advance civic action through transformative partnerships, at home and school

In light of competing priorities, where do you see opportunities in existing work to make civic learning and democratic engagement a more visible priority to students and colleagues?

Note: While you don’t need to have read the full report to participate, please consider reading the highlights to help frame our discussion. This will be an informal discussion where the facilitators will begin with a couple of moderating questions to get the conversation started. There will be soup to share, but you are also welcome to bring your lunch and a drink. We hope that this session will bring together colleagues across campus to discuss where we are each seeing this work taking shape in our respective disciplines and can think creatively about how we integrate civic learning in a range of ways.