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

A global, humanitarian health pandemic closed college campuses, necessitating separation and isolation in March 2020. Those committed to engaged, participatory, collective civic learning through differences worried that moving all learning online would diminish the transformative learning possible through intimate, informal, and collective hands-on projects. Two months later, the national pandemic of racism drew a multiracial, widely diverse group of people from their sheltered spots to the streets to call for an end to police killing and widely systemic denigration of Black lives. This resource page seeks to illuminate how the collision of these two events can mark a pivot point in America and in higher education.

A student’s major should provide robust opportunities for exploring how its disciplinary or interdisciplinary lens is calibrated to reveal where racial inequalities exist and what causes them to persist. Likewise, the major should be a vehicle for inquiring and testing what responses help undue such patterns.

AAC&U’s 1995 monograph, The Drama of Diversity and Democracy, argued, “When diversity is characterized by patterned inequities and persistent marginalization, it is a symptom of democracy’s failure, a sign of society’s unwillingness or inability to confront continuing injustices” (p.10). Educating for democratic justice can be part of the remedy, part of the necessary truth-telling we must do as a nation to reverse democracy’s failure. Departmental majors need to be among the intellectual spaces designed to contribute to that learning and spur collective action in a multitude of ways.

Authors of The Drama of Diversity and Democracy insisted “. . .it is delusional to imagine that we can simply eliminate by decree the consequences of the racial categories invented in this country.” Instead we need to commit to a bold curriculum and innovative teaching that disrupt unexamined inherited norms, offer rigorous examinations of the histories of people of color and other marginalized groups over time, and design pedagogies of engagement, activism, and empathy.

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 civic learning.



Imagining America: Weaving Our We--Collecting Resources

APSA Promoting Civic Literacy and Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

George Washington University--

Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service

Loyola University Chicago--Center for Experiential Learning

University of Minnesota--Office for Public Engagement

University of Wisconsin--Morgridge Center for Public Service

Seattle University--Center for Community Engagement

PACE University--Center for Community Action and Research

IUPUI--Community Engaged Teaching Resources

Creighton University

Ohio University, University College--Center for Campus and Community Engagement

Doug Lederman, “An Argument on ‘Remote’ Rather Than ‘Online’ Learning,” with five tips to create more high touch, engaged student learning remotely

University of Pennsylvania—Netter Center—examples of alternatives for supporting Academically Based Community Service (ABCs) courses in remote Learning

Bard College--Center for Environmental Policy


For undocumented communities facing COVID-19:


Campus Compact: COVID-19: Local--Global Learning and Civic Resources

Civically Engaged Universities and the Pandemic: Strategies that Work, sponsored by the Open Society of New York and the Talloires Network with faculty from the US, Singapore, Hungary, Malaysia, and Pakistan:

Bard CCE:


Learning Opportunities in a Health Crisis

Social Change Model of Leadership

Public Agenda -- Digital Platforms for Engagement


Hope Matters by Mays Imad


“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” Ijeoma Oluo


Talking About Race website resources from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.(An excellent set of resources of varying kinds that help inquirers explore topics such as Being Antiracist, Historical Foundation of Race, Race and Racial Identity, Social Identity and Systems of Oppression, and Whiteness.)

Anti-Racism Resource Guide, Updated June 8, 2020 by Tasha K. (Inspired to create the resource after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the resources amassed invite readers to enter in a lifelong education about race and racism and offers a comprehensive list of history, memoirs, fiction, and analysis of the history and experience of people of color in the United States and books on why white people have such difficulty talking about race.)

Anti-Racism Resources: Adopted from the Anti-Racism Resources Google Doc compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein.(Includes a wide range of books as well as podcasts, articles, and movies)

Anti-Racism Resources for Students, Educators, and Citizens. Grace Player and Danielle Filipiak of the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education. (In addition to movies, alternative media outlets, and national organizations, this site offers books about teaching for Black lives, the historical contexts for Black Lives Matter Protests, and a section titled Our Roles, exploring a variety of ways to step in and step up.)


Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be Anti-Racist, both by Ibram X. Kendri.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Michelle Alexander.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Race. Robin DiAngelo.

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Toni Morrison

Between the World and Me. Ta-Nehisi Coates.

So You Want to Talk about Race. Ijeoma Oluo

Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy. Barbara Applebaum

Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Melissa Harris-Perry

Nobody: Causalities of America’s War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond. Marc Lamont Hill

Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses. Lawrence Ross

Me and White Supremacy. Layla F Saad

The Color of Law. Richard Rothstein


A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Ron Takaki.

A People’s History of the United States. Howard Zinn

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Isabel Wilkerson.

The Making of Asian America. Erika Lee

An African American and Latinx History of the United States. Paul Ortiz

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. Khalil Gibran Muhammad

An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Dream a World Anew: The African American Experience and the Shaping of America. National Museum of African American History and Culture

Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital. Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove.


Civic Learning and Engagement: A Review of the Literature on Civic Learning, Assessments, and Instruments by Robert D. Reason and Kevin Hemer (Focuses principally on research related tools for assessing civic learning across knowledge, stills, values, and behaviors.)

Civic Engagement AAC&U VALUE Rubric. Association of American Colleges and Universities. (Designed to evaluate at institutional or program level using students’ own work to assess their learning across dimensions and time. See also other VALUE Rubrics which are useful in assessing various dimensions of civic learning:Intercultural Knowledge and Competence VALUE Rubric; Global Learning VALUE Rubric; and Ethical Reasoning VALUE Rubric.)

Civic Minded Graduate 2.0, Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), Center for Service and Learning. (This rubric is explained as “creating an updated and practical tool for faculty and staff to use when assessing either a large, broad civic learning goal related to tertiary learning experiences- being a civic minded graduate- or assessing a certain aspect of being civic-minded (empathy, curiosity, depth of community engagement, etc.) as it relates to a specific experience, initiative, pedagogy or program).

Rubrics for Civic Knowledge and Civic Values from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. (Massachusetts was the first state to implement statewide outcomes for civic learning and civic engagement at public two and four institutions. They have now completed a Civic Knowledge and Civic Values rubric for testing. Like AAC&U’s VALUE rubric, these assessments are designed to report student learning at the program and institutional level.)

Personal and Social Responsibility Inventory. Iowa State at the Research Institute for Studies in Education. (This is a campus-wide assessment that examines perceptions and experiences by students, faculty, staff, and academic advisors about how effectively the institution educates students for personal and social responsibility. Useful definitions of five dimension of PSR.)

Assessments/Evaluations from the American Political Science Association. (These instruments are based on ones used by authors in APSA’s two books, Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen (2013) and Teaching Civic Engagement across the Disciplines (2017).

Wabash National Study Instruments from the Center of Inquiry at Wabash College.(This 2006-2008 study of 49 colleges and universities was assessing liberal arts education along many dimensions but three forms of learning accelerated knowledge and have instruments to adapt: Openness to Diversity and Challenges, Political and Social Involvement, and the Defining Issues Test on moral development.)

Diverse Learning Environments Survey by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at University of California Los Angeles.(Administered by HERI, this survey designed to examine the climate for diversity, including experiences with discrimination, cross-racial interaction, and belonging as well as assess learning outcomes including social action and civic engagement.)

Core Assessment Rubric on Social Responsibility by Lone Star College. (This offers a single rubric Lone Star College created for this learning outcome.)

Assessing Students’ Diversity, Global, and Civic Learning Gains. (This thematic issue of Diversity and Democracy from the Association of American Colleges and Universities offers a range of essays from campus practitioners and scholars committed to measuring these outcomes.)

Global Learning Course-level Assessment Matrix. (Created by Ross Miller and Caryn McTighe Musil of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, this assessment uses student learning at the course level as the unit of analysis. While its examples from a history course and a science course focus on global learning goals, many of those echo civic learning goals and can easily be adapted to civic and social responsibility goals. The learning goal drives the selection of sequenced assignments that culminate in a final cumulative assignment. The authors of the matrix ask the professor to share the matrix with students who can also be invited to assess both their own learning along the way and their peers.)