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American Democracy Project

American Democracy Project

Project Background

The American Democracy Project (ADP) is a multi-campus initiative focused on higher education’s role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy.  The project began in 2003 as an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), in partnership The New York Times, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and the American Democracy Project. The project seeks to create a greater intellectual understanding and commitment to participate in the civic life of the United States.

The goal of the project is to:

  • engage community college students before and as they enter the four year college system so that they are more likely to be civically active and engaged while at the CSU and after they graduate;
  • encourage community college students to transfer to four year institutions;
  • engage CSU students so that they are more likely to be civically active and engaged while at the CSU and after they graduate.

The 229 participating colleges and universities, as members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, have been described as “Stewards of Place.”  As today’s undergraduates complete their studies and return to their communities, universities must prepare the next generation of citizens to become tomorrow’s “Stewards of Place.” 

Project Elements

As a University initiative, CSU Channel Islands; (CSUCI) has  focused its efforts on cross-campus, cross-disciplinary forums and collaboration among regional community colleges. The collaborative entitled Partnering Community Colleges, Universities, and Communities provided a year long workshop series, sharing  techniques with faculty from CSUCI and community colleges, to build civic engagement / service learning into the curriculum and identifying models to assess and document civic engagement / service learning.

The Office of the President, in collaboration with the Center for Community Engagement (in fall 2007) received funding from California Campus Compact, Building Bridges for a Better California - Faculty Development Grant, making available 10 mini-grants to support CSUCI and community college faculty members, involved in the ADP Project.  The mini-grants provided funding for the development and integration of service learning into an existing non-service learning course or to fully integrate service learning into an existing service learning course.

Project Impact

As a result of the minigrants, in spring 2008, service learning opportunities were offered in Chemistry, Communication and English courses. In fall 2008 it is anticipated that three more courses incorporating service learning will be implemented. These include courses in: Art, Environmental Science and Resource Management, and Business/Sociology.This grant has allowed CSUCI to deepen service learning on our campus, strategically expand service learning to surrounding community colleges, provide opportunities for faculty to collaborate across campuses and disciplines, and provide training and resources for those in the community colleges who have had limited access to this information.

 Project Executive Summary

To learn more about the Partnering Community Colleges, Universities, and Communities collaboration click here to read the Executive Summary.

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