Case Studies: Civic Learning in the Major by Design

Educating students to be active, responsible, informed citizens in a diverse, unequal, and globally networked world is an urgent, consequential task for higher education and for democracy’s future. Civic Learning in the Major by Design turns to the most untilled acreage for learning about social responsibility at work and in public life: a student’s major. This project offers the first glimpse of how several dozen featured departments have structured the design, expectations, and experiences for all their majors to achieve greater civic impact while deepening students’ learning in the discipline. 

Peer ReviewCivic Learning in the Major by Design shifts the focus from an individual faculty member to the collective agreement of the department to harness the power of its discipline for public purposes and democratic ends of justice, equity, and social responsibility. Civic Prompts (2015) offers a series of guided questions for departments to use. The Fall 2017 issue of Peer Review (2018) highlights nine departments that describe how they drew on the definitions of their discipline, recast departmental learning goals, illuminated public responsibilities at the workplace, and crafted hands-on, project-based learning requirements that tackle public problems in concert with others.

The case studies below feature another set of departments where each describes how it scaffolded learning across levels in the major, designed specific courses, and constructed research and community-based projects. Each also explains the process that led to the reformulated departmental major, the external and internal influences that sped the process, evidence of impact, and words of advice to those seeking departmental redesigns. Gratitude to the Endeavor Foundation for seeding this project.

Featured Case Studies
California State University Monterey Bay California State University Monterey Bay: Humanities and Communication
Clark University Clark University: Community, Youth, and Education Studies
Emory & Henry College Emory & Henry College: Civic Innovation 
Fort Hays State University Fort Hays State University: Organizational Leadership
Gustavus Adolphus College Gustavus Adolphus College: Communication Studies
Illinois State University Illinois State University: School of Communication
Middlebury College: Environmental Studies Major Middlebury College: Environmental Studies Major
Syracuse University Maxwell School Syracuse University: Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Texas Lutheran University Texas Lutheran University: Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (SISE)
University of Maine at Machias University of Maine at Machias: Psychology & Community Studies 
Weber State University Weber State University: Social Work and Gerontology
Wittenberg University Wittenberg University: Environmental Science and Geology