National Task Force: Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

The Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement National Task Force comprises a group of 11 individuals uniquely positioned to lend dynamism and expertise to the discussion of civic engagement in higher education. The task force includes college presidents, educational researchers, and organizational leaders all with a long-standing commitment to civic learning. In concert with AAC&U and GPI, task force members have been tasked with sponsoring national roundtable discussions with key stakeholders, providing a guiding perspective on civic learning and educational policy, developing a National Action Plan for civic engagement, and producing the final report to be issued to the Department of Education.

Task Force Members

Derek Barker
Derek Barker is a program officer at the Kettering Foundation and works primarily on research concerning the democratic role of higher education institutions and professionals. He also participates in projects on the media and democracy, and on the politics of community networks. With training in political science, Derek brings to this work a background in classical political thought, democratic theory, and social science research on public deliberation and civic engagement. His first book project, Tragedy and Citizenship: Conflict, Reconciliation, and Democratic Politics from Haemon to Hegel, was published in 2008 by State University of New York Press. Other projects have appeared in Polis: Journal of the Society for Greek Political Thought, Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Higher Education Exchange, and Connections. Barker’s previous experience includes appointments as visiting assistant professor of political studies at Pitzer College, and scholar-in-residence and ABD research fellow at Kettering. He holds a PhD in political science from Rutgers University.

Richard Guarasci
Richard Guarasci is the 18th President of Wagner College, where he was previously the Provost and Senior Vice President, responsible for academic and student affairs, admissions, and support services, in addition to serving as the chief operating officer. He holds the rank of Professor of Political Science and he teaches in the areas of democracy, citizenship and American diversity. At Wagner, Guarasci founded The Wagner Plan for the Practical Liberal Arts, the four-year curriculum for all undergraduates, which draws together a substantive liberal arts core into a series of learning communities and experiential learning tutorials. The Wagner Plan is now recognized as one of the leading undergraduate curricula in the United States by Time, U.S. News and World Report, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the American Association of Higher Education and the Washington Center for Learning. Guarasci was Dean of the College and Professor of Political Science at Hobart College from 1992-1997. At Hobart & William Smith, he formed a major in community-based and service learning as well as an eighteen-course curriculum in diversity and citizenship. Previously he served as Dean and founding Director of the First Year Program at St. Lawrence University, a nationally celebrated model program of democratic living and learning required for all first year students that joined first year housing.

Sylvia Hurtado
Sylvia Hurtado is Professor and Director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences. Just prior to coming to UCLA, she served as Director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan. Hurtado has published numerous articles and books related to her primary interest in student educational outcomes, campus climates, college impact on student development, and diversity in higher education. She has served on numerous editorial boards for journals in education and served on the boards for the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE), the Higher Learning Commission, and is past President of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). Black Issues in Higher Education named her among the top 15 influential faculty whose work has had an impact on the academy. Hurtado obtained her Ph.D. in Education from UCLA, Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and A.B. from Princeton University in Sociology. She has coordinated several national research projects, including a U.S. Department of Education-sponsored project on how colleges are preparing students to achieve the cognitive, social, and democratic skills to participate in a diverse democracy. She is launching a National Institutes of Health project on the preparation of underrepresented students for biomedical and behavioral science research careers.

Donald Harward
Harward served as President of Bates College from 1989 to June 2002, when he was appointed President Emeritus.  Before taking office at Bates, Harward served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at The College of Wooster, Ohio. He continues to serve on the boards of national educational, philanthropic, and social service organizations. He is a frequent contributor and consultant to professional discussions regarding institutional planning, research and liberal education, service learning, education and civic engagement, and presidential and board leadership at private colleges and universities. Harward’s latest book Transforming Higher Education: Theories That Compel, Practices That Succeed, published by Rowman and Littlefield, will appear in January 2012. Harward is the director of Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP), a project that "supports campus-based initiatives that demonstrate how uses of engaged forms of learning that actively involve students both within and beyond the classroom directly contribute to their cognitive, emotional, and civic development." BTtoP's recently published Civic Provocations monograph is composed of informal essays and provocations that support and deepen inclusive and intentional campus-based consideration of an institution’s own civic mission and the civic mission of higher education today.

Eric Liu
Eric Liu is an author, educator, and civic entrepreneur. Co-authored with Nick Hanauer, Liu's book The True Patriot explores civic engagement in America. Together the two have created the True Patriot Network to advance the book’s ideals of progressive patriotism. Liu's book, The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, was a New York Times Notable Book featured in the PBS documentary, “Matters of Race.” He is also the author of Guiding Lights: How to Mentor – and Find Life’s Purpose, the Official Book of National Mentoring Month, and is founder of the Guiding Lights Network, a mentoring advocacy organization. Liu is also author to Imagination First, (co-authored with Scott Noppe-Brandon of the Lincoln Center Institute), and The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of the Government (co-authored with Nick Hanauer). Liu served as a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the President’s deputy domestic policy adviser. In 2002, he was named one of the World Economic Forum's Global Leaders of Tomorrow. Liu lives in Seattle, where he teaches at the University of Washington and hosts an acclaimed television interview program called Seattle Voices. In addition to speaking regularly at venues across the country, Liu also serves on the Washington State Board of Education, and on the boards of the Seattle Public Library, the League of Education Voters, and the SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership.

Gale Muller
Muller is Vice Chairman of Worldwide Research and Development for Gallup. As Project Leader for the Gallup World Poll, Muller oversees a global team of researchers who study and report on the voices of citizens in more than 130 countries. During his 30+ years at Gallup, Muller ran a worldwide network of more than 300 consultants and researchers, and he has developed multiple selection instruments and engineered their deployment in organizations around the world. Muller received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and his master’s and doctorate degrees in educational psychology and measurements from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He serves as a secretary-treasurer for the Village Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing Nebraska youth. Muller currently serves on the executive board of the Nebraska Special Olympics, is past president of the board of directors of the Community Blood Bank of Lincoln, Nebraska, and is a board member for the Nebraska Human Resources Research Foundation.

Brian Murphy
Brian Murphy is one of the founding members of the Democracy Commitment, a national initiative providing a platform for the development and expansion of community college programs, projects and curricula aiming at engaging students in civic learning and democratic practice across the country. Murphy has been president of De Anza College since 2004. A key focus of his presidency is the preparation of students to be active, involved citizens committed to transforming their communities. This vision led to the creation of De Anza’s Institute for Community and Civic Engagement. In 2006, Murphy spearheaded a participatory Strategic Planning Initiative for the college with input from faculty, staff and students, generating initiatives in the areas of Outreach, Individualized Attention to Student Retention and Success, Cultural Competence and Community Collaborations. Murphy served for 12 years as executive director of the San Francisco Urban Institute at San Francisco State University. Among other positions, Murphy was chief consultant to the California State Legislature’s reviews of the Master Plan for Higher Education and the community college reform process in the late 1980s. He has taught political theory and American government at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara University and San Francisco State University. Murphy earned a bachelor's degree from Williams College and master's and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, all in political science.

Eboo Patel
Named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Patel is the founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based institution building the global interfaith youth movement. Author of the award-winning book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, Patel is also a regular contributor to the Washington Post, National Public Radio, USA Today, and CNN. He served on President Obama’s Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. Patel serves on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation USA. He has spoken at the TED Conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and universities around the world, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Review of Faith and International Affairs, and the Sunday Times of India. Patel's books Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, and Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America comment on the role of religious diversity in the United States.

Carol Geary Schneider
Schneider has been president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities since 1998. In 2005, AAC&U launched Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), a public advocacy and campus action initiative designed to engage students and the public with what really matters in a college education for the twenty-first century.  Under Schneider’s leadership, AAC&U has also expanded its work on diversity, launched several new projects on civic engagement and the disciplines, and deepened its capacity to support campuses working on educational change. In 1982, she was named a Mina Shaughnessy Fellow of the U.S. Department of Education and she has been a distinguished Visiting Scholar at The American University in Cairo, 1997 and a Getty Center Visiting Scholar for the Seminar on Public Culture in 1998. Schneider has published extensively on all the major areas of her educational work. Some of her recent articles include: “Liberal Education Takes a New Turn” in the NEA 2008 Almanac of Higher Education, “Putting Liberal Education on the Radar Screen” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Liberal Education and the Civic Engagement Gap” in Higher Education for the Public Good (2005), and “Liberal Education: Slip-Sliding Away?” in Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk (2005).

David Scobey
David Scobey is the Executive Dean for the New School in New York City.  Prior to accepting this position, he was the Donald W. and Ann M. Harward Professor of Community Partnerships and the inaugural Director of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Until 2005 he was Associate Professor of Architecture in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and Director of the Arts of Citizenship Program at the University of Michigan. Scobey holds a doctorate from Yale's Program in American Studies. As Director of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, Scobey was charged with coordinating Bates College’s community-engagement initiatives and integrating them into the College’s liberal-arts mission. Scobey brings a decade of work in the national effort for academic civic engagement. In 1997, he founded the University of Michigan’s Arts of Citizenship Program to foster the role of the arts, humanities, and design in civic life. He serves on the national advisory committees for Project Pericles and chairs the National Advisory Board of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. His interests and areas of expertise in academic civic and community engagement includes: civic engagement in the arts and humanities; civic engagement in liberal arts education; and current trends in the national movement for academic civic engagement.

Kathleen Maas Weigert
Weigert is the Carolyn Farrell, BVM, Professor of Women and Leadership and Assistant to the Provost for Social Justice Initiatives at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to this, Weigert was the Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, and Service at Georgetown University, a center created when she joined that university in 2001. In addition, she was a Research Professor in both the Department of Sociology and the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown. Weigert earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame and has an extensive record of teaching, scholarship, and service throughout her career. She is the co-designer of Notre Dame’s “Concentration in Peace Studies,” and the co-designer of the “Social Justice Analysis” concentration in the Sociology major at Georgetown (2004).A co-editor of America’s Working Poor (University of Notre Dame Press, 1995), she is also one of the authors of The Search for Common Ground: What Unites and Divides Catholic Americans (Our Sunday Visitor, 1997), which received the 1998 Award for Excellence in Research from the National Conference of Catechetical Leaders. She is co-editor of Teaching for Justice: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Peace Studies (American Association of Higher Education, 1999) and Living the Catholic Social Tradition: Cases and Commentary (Sheed and Ward, 2005). Weigert is currently researching social justice ideas in the work of Jane Addams. She serves on the boards of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University, New Orleans, and Community Links International.