Civic Prompts: Civic Learning in the Major by Design

Educating students to be socially responsible, informed, and engaged citizens in their workplaces, nation, and the global community should be an expected goal for every major.

AAC&U’s report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future, recommends that higher education “define within departments, programs, and disciplines the public purposes of their respective fields, the civic inquiries most urgent to explore, and the best way to infuse civic learning outcomes progressively across the major.” AAC&U first took up this challenge through a pilot initiative that resulted in the publication of Civic Prompts: Making Civic Learning Routine Across the Disciplines.

Two grants from The Endeavor Foundation enabled AAC&U to identify emerging departmental designs that scaffolded civic learning, social responsibility, and questions about the public good throughout a student’s requirements in the major.  The Peer Review volume highlights what some of these designs look like, as do another twelve departments highlighted in online case studies.  Mini-grants to 24 additional departments permitted faculty to decide how to invest in more civic-rich departmental designs.  Departmental leaders from six departments offer more detail about how they reimagined the experience for their majors to emphasize social responsibility: Civic Prompts in the Major: Disciplinary Knowledge, Democratic Culture, and the Public Good and Redesigning Majors: Disciplinary Knowledge, Civic Learning, and Public Responsibility

In 2019-2020, AAC&U also hosted three regional institutes for 47 different colleges and universities from 20 states plus the District of Columbia representing 30 different departmental majors. In these institutes, departmental teams explored what lines of inquiry were amenable to their department, big issues commonly explored that lend themselves to civic inquiries, civic and justice-seeking pedagogies, assignments that generate more intentional civic outcomes, and forms of civic action for students to engage in which could be incorporated more deliberately.

Civic Learning Project Resources:

Educating for Democratic Justice: Civic Teaching Online, Anti-Racism Resources, and Assessment

This page offers some beginning steps in three areas:  online civic engagement strategies in the time of COVID-19; anti-racism resources; and ways to assess student’s civic learning.

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

Other Resources:
Political Learning and Democratic Engagement: Learn-Engage-Vote

A budding list of websites, publications, and organizations to help you meet the political learning and democratic engagement goals on your campus