In 2012, NASPA – the National Association of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education – selected the Division of Student Life at Wake Forest to serve as one of 50 lead institutions in a national initiative on civic learning and democratic engagement. As a member of the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Network (CLDE), NASPA has made a commitment to encourage and highlight the work of student affairs in making civic learning and democratic engagement a part of every student’s college education. As one of the leaders, Wake Forest Student Life works in partnership with others on and off campus to influence students’ ongoing commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement, and create strategies in collaboration with students that increase civic learning to help solve community problems through collective action. To learn more, please contact Marianne Magjuka, co-chair of the CLDE Task Force.
CLDE Programs & Initiatives
Wake the Vote
In response to the presidential election, we launched the “Wake the Vote” initiative, which featured academic panels and speakers, an inter-generational deliberative dialogue about social security, documentary screenings, voter registration drives, and public forums. We offered interactive debate watch parties for each of the three presidential debates (see the Storify here: http://storify.com/WakeForestNews/wake-the-vote). In addition, we published a local voting guide, and received a grant through the Campus Election Engagement Project to offer a shuttle to polling stations.
Drs. Katy Harriger and Jill McMillan define deliberative dialogue as “a public discussion format for a group to work through a challenge that faces them” (2008). This technique prepares students to engage with each other in productive, respectful ways by developing the critical thinking skills needed to view a complex issue from multiple perspectives. We have hosted campus-wide deliberative dialogues on issues of campus culture and inclusion.
Social Action Collaborative
The Social Action Collaborative provides a forum for students to explore justice issues through common texts, meet with local experts, and grapple with the root causes of social challenges in our community. An essential component of the Social Action Collaborative is the shared partnership between university and community agency. We co-facilitate the program with local leaders, agency staff, community organizers, business owners and action coalitions. By hearing these voices in the discussion, students begin to see the interconnectedness of the issues and their solutions.
ACC Lobbying Trip
In March of 2012, we joined with other institutions in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) to participate in the inaugural ACC Lobbying Trip to Washington, D.C. Students learned about the lobbying process, researched topics and prepared briefs, and met with their elected leaders to discuss increased federal funding for financial aid and research. While the experience was limited to a select group of students and their peers across the ACC, it provided a platform for civic education. In debrief, student participant Christopher Iskander, said, “It was a privilege to see firsthand how Congress works. While it was frustrating at times, I walked away with a better understanding of the political process.”