Citizenship Under Siege

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice. . . ."  So begins the Preamble to the US Constitution.  But who is recognized as belonging to "We the People," not just legally with full rights and responsibilities, but also in terms of culture, language, and recognized identities?  And if granted citizenship by law, can one fully practice it if curtailed by economic inequality or by racism?  Who is entitled to be seen as an American citizen is still entangled with issues of social justice, race, religious belief, property, wealth, national origins, gender, language, and ethnicity.

In an age of fractious differences about this topic when finding common ground seems elusive, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and The Democracy Commitment are joining with seven community colleges to orchestrate a series of public forums, each with accompanying programs and educational resources to bridge the rifts.

Organized under the common theme, Citizenship Under Siege, and supported by a grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities, the events are framed through the powerful historic, ethical, and narrative lenses of the humanities.  We believe this tapestry of forums underscores how the humanities still are "the heart of the matter, the keeper of the republic—a source of national memory and civic vigor, cultural understanding and communication, individual fulfillment, and the ideals we hold in common (American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2013, 9).

Clashes Over Citizenship: Webinar Series on Promoting Listening, Learning, and Engagement
This series of three webinars aim to expand campus expertise on how to hold constructive conversations about contentious issues and how to institute practices in and out of the classroom that foster engagement across differences.
Link to Video Series
Link for more Information

The Participating Community Colleges Include:

Program Goals

Tailored to issues of importance to their local communities, the public forums will explore critical questions about citizenship such as: 

  • What historic struggles for full social justice, democratic rights, and recognition can illuminate a way through contemporary logjams over issues about citizenship, who belongs, and who should get full citizenship rights?
  • How can the humanities provide fresh understandings for our contemporary context of key principles and values embedded in our founding documents: equality, individual dignity, opportunity, liberty, and public happiness?
  • How can the humanities with their powers of narrative and imagination illuminate the human drama behind these political debates: the yearning, struggle, humiliation, resilience, despair, and triumph?
  • How can the humanities contribute to the constructive practice of democratic engagement across multiple differences in background and world view especially in the face of suspicion, mistrust, vulnerability, ignorance, and polarization? 

For more information, please contact Caryn McTighe Musil at