Civic Learning in Higher Education

I had the honor to spend the day listening to an engaging conversation with university leaders, policy makers and advocates from around the country. Tisch College, where I work, hosted the White House’s Civic Learning and National Service Summit – a day long conversation focused on validating, elevating and integrating civic learning in higher education.

A lot of critical issues – and stories to celebrate – were raised throughout the day. I’m afraid I haven’t quite synthesized these into a concise and compelling format, but here are a few of the ideas that I am walking away with –

Civic learning is more than civic engagement. It is broader and it is deeper. It’s not just about engaging students in civic work, it’s about preparing students and educating them to be continually engaged in civic work, to the best of their abilities.

It is about embracing higher education, not as something which can propel an individual to success, but as something which can fundamentally strengthen our democracy.

And embracing civic learning isn’t just a program shift, it is a culture shift. It means creating environments where faculty dedicated to civic learning can thrive. Where staff can dedicate their careers to helping young people and communities flourish.

There is much work to be done – in higher education as in other sectors. But there are many successes to celebrate and many allies deeply engaged in this work. Nothing gets solved in a one day meeting, but the conversation is important.

And the conversation continues.


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