The Democracy Commitment @ Santa Fe

Santa Fe College is part of a national initiative to engage community college students in civic learning and democratic practice, called The Democracy Commitment.  The goal is that every graduate — in every program — will have had an education in democracy while at Santa Fe.

Civic learning at the community college level is compatible with preparation for the workforce and improved completion rates.  As noted in ‘A Crucible Moment’, a new report on college learning and democracy’s future, “it is time to bring two national priorities – career preparation and increased access and completion rates – together in a more comprehensive vision with a third national priority:  fostering informed, engaged, responsible citizens. Higher education, especially community colleges, is a space with that triad of priorities can join together and flourish.”

President Jackson Sasser traveled to New York City in December 2011, to an event sponsored by the New York Times, to sign Santa Fe College as a member of the Democracy Commitment officially.  A representative group of 26 faculty, staff and students was organized and, with the arrival of the C-SPAN bus on Feb.1, 2012, Santa Fe launched its Democracy Commitment initiative on campus.

The first official step was to complete a “Civic Inventory” to identify places and programs on campus where civic learning and democratic engagement activities are already underway. TDC@SF submitted a 20-page document detailing what kinds of activities currently exist and where there are opportunities for future development.

During the Spring 2011 Term, TDC@SF offered a series of educational forums each month about the 2012 elections and the election process. In April and continuing into May, The Democracy Commitment surveyed 5,000 students and faculty/staff, to determine their current level of civic awareness/commitment, using the Global Perspective Institute questionnaire. This will enable SF to assess awareness levels in comparison to national standards.

Also in April, Santa Fe College was selected as one of 10 colleges nationally for Bridging Cultures, a three-year curriculum and faculty development project sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities  and The Democracy Commitment,  and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (press release).

In June, representatives from SF will attend the annual meeting of The Democracy Commitment, to learn what other TDC colleges are doing and to help plan future activities. In late summer and fall, the focus will be on voter registration and turnout for the November 2012 elections.

TDC@SF is co-chaired by Marilyn Tubb, associate vice president, and professors David Price and Alan Beck.

For more information, please contact Marilyn Tubb at 352-395-7373 or marilyn.tubb@sfcollege.edu.