Civic Engagement and Peacebuilding: The Democracy Commitment

The connection between youth civic engagement and peaceful approaches to conflict has been espoused by educational leaders such as John Dewey, and as a means to promoting peacebuilding in conflict zones by organizations such as the U.S. Institute of Peace.  The “democratic peace” theory argues that societies that are engaged and functioning democracies will not go to war against each other.  It stands to reason then, that promoting civic engagement with community college students can contribute to building peaceful futures.

The Democracy Commitment (TDC) is a national initiative providing a platform for the development and expansion of community college programs, projects and curricula aimed at engaging students in civic learning and democratic practice across the country.  TDC recently met with its 4-year institutions cohort – the American Democracy Project  (ADP)– both sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Denver, CO , June 6-8, 2013.

The gathering included over 500 educators and students, of which fully a third were from community colleges including a large number of students.   Events were held that focused on ways in which community colleges can promote democratic practice.   During the Saturday plenary session, winners of the ADP/TDC student video contest reflected on their experiences.  Winners included students from Delta College (MI) and Cuyahoga Community College (OH).  Throughout the conference there were opportunities for brainstorming and planning among students and faculty to promote programs on democratic practice.

Currently there are 128 community colleges participating in The Democracy Commitment.  The goal is to increase that number to 200 schools within the next year, thereby reaching 3,000,000 students and potentially 400,000 new voters.

If you would like to learn more about TDC, contact Amee Bearne, National Coordinator, at bearnea@aascu.org.

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