W&M recognized for its commitment to civic learning, engagement

  • Civic Engagement
    Civic Engagement
    William & Mary was among 50 colleges and universities recognized for their commitment to civic democratic engagement by a national association of student affairs administrators.

William & Mary was among 50 colleges and universities recognized for their commitment to civic democratic engagement by a national association of student affairs administrators. 

The College was the only Virginia school included on the list released by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education as part of its Lead Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.

According to its website, NASPA, formerly the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, is “the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession.”

The Lead Initiative recognizes 50 institutions representing public and private postsecondary institutions that have committed to work with on- and off-campus constituents to influence students’ ongoing commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement (CLDE).

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Lead Initiative’s focus on CLDE comes from A Crucible Moment, a report issued by the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education in response to “a prevailing national dialogue that limits the mission of higher education to workforce preparation and training while marginalizing disciplines basic to democracy.”

“This initiative is unique in that each institution has its own specific goals, programming, and assessment techniques, and NASPA acts as a support and resource to members to develop and further their CLDE programming. It is both a recognition for their work with CLDE, but also a working group,” said Drew Stelljes, the College’s assistant vice president for student engagement and leadership as well as director of the Office of Community Engagement.

As a Lead Initiative institution, the College has prepared a “Comprehensive Civic Learning Agenda” designed to incorporate CLDE activities into student affairs division strategic goals and learning outcomes.

The College has prepared a number of events designed to support this mission. 

An Active Citizen Conference exploring ways in which higher education can support a culture of active citizenship as well as challenging students to become engaged scholars is set to take place Feb. 15-17, 2013. 

In addition, the Vice President’s Writing Group on Student Leadership Development, a working group consisting of faculty, staff, students and alumni, met for eight weeks this semester to begin a thorough review of leadership. The writing group is now developing a white paper that will set in motion a series of thoughtfully designed programs, speakers, events, trips and curricula enabling W&M students to become better prepared to assume leadership in work and in community. The writing group is considering use of the Social Change Model as theoretical framework. 

W&M’s existing D.C. Summer Institute on Civic Engagement likewise contributes to the Lead Initiative mission. Stelljes notes that the Institute is a six-credit academic program consisting of a two-week course, internship, and independent study focusing on partnerships with D.C. area civic leaders to support students’ CLDE education. 

Beginning in spring 2013, the College will hold a series of CLDE weekly lunches will bring together campus and community members in collaborative study, partnership, reflection, and action to address contemporary social issues, Stelljes reported.

The success of these efforts will be collected and reported using tools that measure gains in civic learning and democratic engagement.