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Campus Assessment of Civic Responsibility
July 15, 1999 draft, This is a work in progress, we welcome your feedback.
The next important step for each president endorsing the Fourth of July Declaration is to conduct an assessment on your own campus of your current activities to promote civic responsibility. Each of us is urged to gather a diverse group of trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners on your campus to develop measures of successful civic engagement that are consistent with the mission of your particular institution. To assist you, we have compiled this list of questions for your use in framing your discussions.
We know that every campus will fulfill its civic mission in its own unique way. In fact, each campus will make a unique contribution to refining what it means to be an engaged campus. The following questions are designed to inspire you in that enterprise. We look forward to learning in a year what you have done and will circulate a document summarizing various campus efforts.
I. Presidential Leadership
- In what ways am I leading my campus in articulating and implementing a civic mission that calls upon us to prepare our students for engaged citizenship? Is that mission widely known and understood by our trustees, faculty, administration, alumni, students and our larger community?
- How well have I, as president, personally and actively engaged in community or public policy development? How well do I articulate the philosophical and intellectual meaning of higher education as an agent of democracy? Do I help to highlight the specific and unique quality and character of my particular institution, and make visible the public work and contributions of faculty, staff, and students?
II. Campus Constituencies
- How well does our curriculum help students develop civic competencies and civic habits? These habits include the arts of civil public argument, civic imagination, and the ability to critically evaluate arguments and information. They also include the capacities and curiosity to listen, interest in and knowledge of public affairs, and the ability to work with others different from themselves on public problems in ways that deepen appreciation of others’ talents.
- Are our students given multiple opportunities to do the work of citizenship through real projects of impact and relevance, linked to their academic learning?
- Do we seek to measure students’ knowledge of American democratic institutions at matriculation and/or at graduation?
- How well have we worked to increase opportunities for community-based learning, including community-based research and curricular-based community engagement (service-learning)?
- How well do we prepare our future teachers — for K-12 and higher education — to integrate civic learning into their teaching?
- How well do our campus’s co-curricular activities provide opportunities for civic engagement? Do these activities include participation in political campaigns and/or other change-oriented activities?
- To what extent do our co-curricular activities include a regular time and place for reflection about how such experiences might shape student’ view of the world and their future careers and life work?
- How well does our campus’s culture support students’ participation in genuine, vigorous, open dialogue about the critical issues of their education and the democracy?
- To what extent are students on campus able to help build and sustain genuinely public cultures full of conversation, civil argument, and discussion about the meaning of their learning, their work, and their institutions as a whole?
- How well does our campus promote voter registration and participation? Do we regularly invite elected officials to campus to speak, and support public forums on critical issues of the day?
- How diverse is our student body? Do our financial aid and admissions policies reflect our desire for a diverse student body?
- How do we enable students to encounter and learn from others different from themselves in experience, culture, racial background, gender, sexual orientation, ideologies and views?
- To what extent do our career offices provide opportunities for public and nonprofit career choices?
- At what stage is our campus in preparing students for, and providing financial aid programs to support career choices in the public and nonprofit sectors?
- How well does our campus provide opportunity for faculty to create, participate in, and take responsibility for a vibrant public culture on campus, which values faculty and students moral and civic imagination, judgment, and insight?
- Is our faculty encouraged to participate in genuine civic partnerships based on respect and recognition of different ways of knowing and different kinds of contributions in which expertise is “on tap, not on top”?
- Is our faculty encouraged to discuss the need to develop student citizenship skills and debate what those skills and habits are and how they might be developed?
Faculty Development and Rewards
- Do faculty hiring, development opportunities, promotion and tenure policies encourage and support teaching that includes community-based learning and undergraduate action research? Do these systems support and reward faculty who link their research and service to community needs and concern?
- How well are faculty members prepared to pursue “public scholarship” relating their work to the pressing problems of society, providing consultations and expertise, and creating opportunities to work with community and civic partners in co-creating initiatives of public value?
- How well do we orient new faculty members to the community of which the campus is a part, developed in collaboration with community leaders? Do we have an ongoing programs to introduce faculty to community issues and community perspectives on those issues?
- Do faculty, deans, and the chief academic officer have knowledge of and access to discipline-based development materials regarding engaged scholarship and teaching?
C. Administrators and Staff
- How well do our administrators create and improve structures that sustain civic engagement and public contributions in many forms?
- Do our administrators seek to find their own ways to be publicly engaged?
- To what extent are our hiring practices driven by a desire to achieve broad representation and social diversity, not simply out of moral imperative but out of full recognition that a diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and views is essential to a vital public culture?
- To what extent does our staff receive recognition for the often extensive ties that many have with the local community?
- To what extent are those ties seen as a resource for community-university partnerships, for student learning, for engaged scholarship, and for the broad intellectual life of the institution?
- To what extent do our administration and faculty view the staff as an integral part of the process to educate students for democracy?
- To what extent is our staff encouraged to work with faculty to examine and change the campus culture to support engagement?
D. Trustees And Alumni
- Are trustees engaged in discussing the importance of the civic responsiblity of the institution in all its dimensions?
- Are alumni educated about the institutions’ civic engagement and encouraged to support those activities through their own actions and their financial support?
III. The Institutional Role in Civic Responsibility
Democratic Practice on our Campus
- Does our campus model democratic behavior? Do we engage all of our campus constituencies in our governance, our promotion of robust debate, in the ways in which we use tensions and controversies as teachable moments to demonstrate the value of rigorous, not rancorous discourse?
- How well does our institution create and sustain long-term partnerships with communities and civic bodies? Do we share resources with our partners? Do we allocate resources to support these activities? Can our civic partners point to long-term, positive experiences with our campus?
- Are our partnerships framed in ways which reflect the campus’ commitments to community building and civic vitality, that integrate community experience into the learning of students and the professional service opportunities for staff, and that fully understand and appreciate the public dimensions of scholarly work?
Communications with our Community
- How well does our campus promote awareness that civic engagement is an essential part of our mission?
- How well does our campus create structures that generate a more porous and interactive flow of knowledge between campus and communities?
- To what extent have we improved the condition of the communities surrounding our campuses?
- To what extent is a public measure of campus success the condition of the surrounding community and the measurable difference the campus has made in improving the physical and human condition of neighborhood residents?
- How well do we think about procurement and employment practice and use of physical plant as opportunities to enhance our local communities?
- How well do we make sustained efforts to track civic engagement activity by students, staff, or faculty and make an effort to deploy these activities in strategic ways that make maximum impact on the community’s improvement agenda?