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Peter Levine

Higher education, liberal arts, and civic education

Last week, Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, spoke to a meeting of 17 college presidents and other representatives of higher education about the civic mission of the university. As more and more emphasis is being placed on higher education as a path to employment, Levine noted, the liberal arts and the civic mission of higher education are being placed on the sideline. But this would be a mistake, he argues, and supporters of these programs “can proudly and forthrightly make the case for both the civic mission of the university and the liberal arts and openly tell our fellow citizens that they should support those things.”

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The NAEP, civic knowledge, and student performance

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) has just released two new fact sheets, both looking at the claim that today’s students are not properly prepared for citizenship once they graduate from high school. Only eight states currently test students on American government or civics, and only about a quarter of students nationwide earn a “proficient” score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics exam. This statistic is often cited as proof that more civic education is needed.

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Civic responses to Newtown

Over at his blog, CIRCLE director Peter Levine looks at the tragic Newtown school shooting and discusses some of the different kinds of civic responses that are available. “Addressing a brutal threat together,” he notes, “is civic work that can help repair the torn fabric.” And there are many ways that citizens can come together and engage in this important work of self governance.

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Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The 2013 Summer Institute of Civic Studies at Tisch College, Tufts University, is now accepting applications. Organized by Peter Levine (CIRCLE) and Karol Soltan (University of Maryland), the fifth annual summer program will be an intensive two-week seminar that brings together advanced graduate students, faculty, and practitioners from diverse fields of study to learn about and discuss topics related to citizenship.

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What is civic engagement anyway?

Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), raises the question at his blog about what we actually mean when we use the term “civic engagement.” “There is no single answer to this question, which is deeply contested,” he notes.

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The civic mission of higher education

Over at his blog, CIRCLE’s Peter Levine raises some good questions about the role and purpose of civic education, and how it can be used to strengthen democracy and civil society. Before we can judge which civic education initiatives work, Levine writes, “more fundamentally, we must decide what our democracy and civil society need from citizens. Should we be most concerned about information and knowledge? Skills? Civility? Devotion and duty? Independence?”

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Testing civics

At Education Week, Nora Fleming explores the results of CIRCLE’s recent report examining the civics-related standards, assessments, and course requirements of all 50 states. (We covered the release of the report here.) After noting that the report found that very few states test civics in a meaningful way, Fleming considers what the next steps are for educators.

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Education for a civil society

Writing at the Harvard Education Publishing blog, CIRCLE’s Peter Levine argues that the results of the recent CIRCLE study of each state’s civic education standards and course requirements–which we highlighted here–are not as dire as they may seem. (One such discouraging note from the study is that only eight states nationwide have statewide tests specifically in civics or American government.)

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Civic health and unemployment II: The case builds

Last November, we covered a report by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC)–whose annual national conference, by the way, is today and can be live streamed beginning at 1:00 PM EST here–that made the case that a community’s level of civic engagement was related to its economic success. On Wednesday, NCoC released a follow up to that report: “Civic Health and Unemployment II: The Case Builds.”

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Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The fourth annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service is in its second and final week, but it’s not too late to start following along with the class’s reading syllabus, here.

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Civic Provocations

Earlier this year, the “Bringing Theory to Practice Project” published a monograph  that encourages colleges and universities to reexamine their core purposes and to “advance education as a public good that sustains a civic society.”

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Civic relationships

Over at his blog, CIRCLE’s Peter Levine has some thoughts on the importance of civic relationships to a healthy democracy. Often lumped under the term “social capital” by political scientists (Robert Putnam defines the term as “connections among individuals–social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them”), Levine emphasizes that these civic relationships occur much more organically than such language suggests.

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Calling all civics practitioners

The fourth annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies is now accepting applications! A two-week, interdisciplinary seminar at Tisch College, Tufts University, the Institute is organized by Peter Levine (CIRCLE) and Karol Soltan (University of Maryland).

For more information and to apply, visit the Institute’s page here.

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