the Purdue ad hoc Task Force on Citizenship Education, and its mission
2: Service-learning as a valued educational strategy.
3: Interdisciplinary cooperation
4: Awareness of alternative approaches to citizenship
Initiative 1: Blending traditional academic practices with community service.
Initiative 2: Mutually-beneficial partnerships with community
Initiative 3: A responsive forum for discussion
1. Citizenship as a valued educational goal.
nation's history the mission of higher education has been directed toward
serving the perceived social needs existing in communities and in society-at-large.
This has included the developing (equipping and nurturing) of its students
to become "good citizens", able and committed to meet both public and career-related
challenges. Purdue University, as a land-grant institution, traces its
origin and purpose back to the first Morrill Act (1862). The clear intent
of the Morrill Act was, and remains, to enhance the provision of educated
members of society who have practical skills, allowing them to be productive
and effective members of professions, and of society in general. There
now exists the suggestion that land-grant institutions (and US higher education
in general) have become side-tracked from an important component of that
original purpose, and that key adaptations may allow these institutions
to "get back on track" without compromising their existing strengths and
areas of excellence.
As affirmed in
one part of the mission statement of a fellow land-grant, and fellow Big-Ten,
institution (Michigan State University): "Underlying all education programs
is the belief that an educated person is one who becomes an effective and
productive citizen. Such a person contributes to society intellectually,
through analytical abilities and in the insightful use of knowledge; economically,
through productive application of skills; socially, through the understanding
and appreciation of the world and for individual and group beliefs and
traditions; ethically, through sensitivity and faithfulness to examined
values; and politically, through the use of reason in affairs of state.
Mindful of such purposes, [the] University is committed to graduating educated
men and women with diverse backgrounds who are active learners, ready to
assume the responsibilities of leadership whenever opportunities arise."
on material from the Bennion Center at the University of Utah, it can be
noted that the needs that now challenge society are significantly different
than those that have faced us in the past. These challenges have direct
impact on both the professional or vocational roles as well as public citizen
roles of our graduates. These pervasive societal challenges include: large
scale problems of the physical environment, of health, of homelessness.
Moreover, changes in the demography of the nation and attendant issues
of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, changes in family structures
and lifestyles, and the globalization of the economy and political systems
all directly impact the career-related and personal lives of all graduates,
regardless of career-related major. Our communities need the new generations
of college students to learn through "socially responsive knowledge" to
accept social responsibility as "good citizens" and to make meaningful
contributions to resolution of these burgeoning social problems.
While debate about
the exact purpose of education, or the exact nature of "good citizenship",
is healthy and should be expected to persist in vibrant, open and self-aware
communities, the members of the Purdue ad hoc Task Force on Citizenship
Education share a strong commitment to further the recognition of citizenship
as a valued educational goal. One commentator has talked about fostering
qualities in students, qualities such as honesty, tolerance, empathy, generosity,
teamwork, cooperation, service, and social responsibility. Yet we might
note that such qualities imply finding a balance between a need for openness,
a commitment to standards, a detached ability to observe and to evaluate,
and a willingness to participate. All this suggests a central role for
values, but values which function with elements of reflection, self-awareness
and openness, as well as with a commitment to collaboration and to concern
for the greater good.
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2. Service-learning as a valued educational strategy.
Given our notion
of a "good citizen", and of the corresponding "socially-responsive knowledge",
involves enhancing the students' awareness of the nature of community,
awareness of the nature of citizenship, and willingness to become actively
and effectively involved, then service-learning is a prototypical example
of the means to generate such socially-responsive knowledge.
is a course-based educational experience through which students participate
in an organized service activity that addresses community issues or needs.
As part of this course experience, the students reflect on the service
activity and the course's content in ways that promote understanding of
community and societal issues. Thus service-learning combines the engagement
and the participation of volunteerism with reflection and research in the
classroom. Service-learning, well done, should increase: student sensitivity
to others; student awareness of cultural and other differences, and awareness
of societal problems and challenges; student awareness of how learning
in the academy can make a difference in the broader society; student respect
for the value of participation and service, approached thoughtfully and
rationally, but with concern for the danger of prejudging individuals or
interpretation put on service-learning can vary widely, depending on the
dominant aspect of citizenship emphasized in a particular course or program.
Moreover, a variety of activities outside of conventional service-learning
may have something to contribute to citizenship education, even though
these variants typically lack some feature(s) of service learning. Volunteerism
typically lacks the element of classroom-based reflection or research;
courses in leadership, multiculturalism, or critical thinking may lack
an experiential dimension outside the classroom; community-based, student-participatory
research may lack explicit academic course credits; more traditional courses
about the political process, or the history of ideas or the history of
political institutions may lack experiential and reflective elements.
Thus, while valuing
the potential of "non-prototypical" forms of "socially-responsive knowledge-generation",
the Purdue ad hoc Task Force on Citizenship Education strongly supports
service-learning as being a primary and powerful form of citizenship education.
This is not to say that service-learning -- or other forms of less-prototypical
citizenship education -- should be embedded in every course in the curriculum;
however there is value in every student having access to significant service-learning
opportunities during his or her progress through the university, in encouraging
each student to consider taking such courses, and in encouraging each program
and department throughout the university to consider the extent of citizenship
education and socially-responsive knowledge available to their students.
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3. Interdisciplinary cooperation as a central means to facilitate these
A thesis of this
document is that the generation of socially-responsive knowledge thrives
on an ability to integrate, holistically, values of community with traditional
discipline-specific knowledge, as well as on an ability to recognize and
respect differences, while being concerned about personal integrity and
about the ways that such pluralism is mediated in political, social, economic
and other contexts. If citizenship revolves at all around the notion of
sharing ideas, expertise and experiences in a manner that is effective,
reflective and constructively-critical, then interdisciplinary cooperation
becomes an important signal of faculty willingness to listen to ideas and
ways of thinking from other disciplines, an affirmation of the synergy
and power of bringing to bear multiple perspectives for greater creativity
and insight, and a sign of individual commitment to personal growth and
to holistic integration of ideas. Thus both for intensely-practical and
for intensely-symbolic reasons, the Purdue ad hoc Task Force on Citizenship
Education strongly advocates an interdisciplinary approach -- promising
economizing on resources, sharing pedagogical insights, and bringing to
bear a wider array of resources and patterns of thinking, while affirming
the value of openness and a willingness to learn from others.
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4. Awareness of alternative approaches to citizenship, and of alternative
forms of learning and understanding, as a signal of informed, reflective
Notions of citizenship
can vary radically, as one would expect with such a "centrally-situated" concept. While each individual and each program at Purdue University is
free to develop a notion of citizenship that seems most fitting, an inability
to understand the reasons why other notions of citizenship may be
valued -- and by implication, an inability to articulate potential weaknesses
of one's own notion of citizenship -- would risk placing citizenship education
within a zone of ignorance, insularity, and self-righteousness that might
well contradict the ideals of "good citizenship" and of "good scholarship".
It is the contention of the Purdue ad hoc Task Force on Citizenship Education
that neither good citizenship nor healthy "service-responsive knowledge" are likely to be well-taught by an instructor who exhibits an inability
to understand, and to treat with respect, alternative notions of citizenship
and of learning, and who is unable to subject his or her notion of citizenship
and learning to a critical examination. Such a person risks betraying both
the ideals of the academy and the ideals of participative democracy.
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Initiative 1. Fostering of curricula opportunities blending traditional
academic practices with community service.
academic practices with community service will allow students, and faculty,
to gain: greater appreciation of the problems and potentialities of society;
greater understanding of the applicability of academic knowledge in the
community (and of any weaknesses of a "purely-academic" way of thinking);
a greater appreciation of the diversity, strengths and struggles found
in our society; and a greater commitment to effective, and reflective,
community service. Students should also find themselves more attractive
to employers, while developing deeper relationships with faculty and while
gaining a greater sense of purpose and direction in their lived experience.
Faculty should expect to find such teaching rewarding, in terms of the
high level of intrinsic motivation and enthusiasm of student participants.
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Initiative 2. Development of mutually-beneficial partnerships with community-based
agencies, area K - 12 schools, and corporate or governmental agencies.
An essential feature
of citizenship education is an attitude of partnership, where the academic
community -- in addition to providing expertise, leadership and volunteers
as appropriate -- listens to, and learns from, those in the community outside
the campus "walls". Any sense, that the university views (the rest of)
the community as existing for the university's own purposes, would appear
to risk compromising the ideals of citizenship. A true sense of partnership,
functioning effectively, should provide a two-way stream of ideas -- encouraging
the community to realize its own strengths and assets, providing faculty
and students with new challenges and new insights into the strengths and
weaknesses of their core ways of thinking, sharing special expertise and
suggesting new problems and innovative solutions to old problems (both
within the community and within the research agenda of the various faculty
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Initiative 3. Provision of a responsive forum for discussion (by faculty,
students, and the community) of concerns related to citizenship education
and public service.
and an ability to evaluate openly, critically, and without prejudice, is
a central feature of the practice of citizenship. Information and education
about the nature(s) of citizenship education, and of the roles of individuals
within society, are essential to a process of individual and communal growth
and maturity. This is particularly true in an age where a traditional commitment
to citizenship is feared to be eroding, and where there is concern about
similar erosion of the level of discourse in academia.