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Harry Boyte article on Building Democracy Colleges

Harry Boyte, Director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College, asked me to share with the NCDD community an article he co-wrote with Blase Scarnati for the Huffington Post (published 5/3/12), titled “Building Democracy Colleges: A Different Kind of Politics.”

The article begins…

A fit with the season of tornadoes across the nation this year, the Citizens United Versus the Federal Elections Commission court decision has unleashed a venomous tsunami of attack ads by Super PACs. The political weather threatens to get worse before November. In such a climate, what does it look like for higher education to take leadership in “a politics of constructive action by the citizenry across divisions to meet the nation’s challenges,” as Nancy Cantor and I proposed last year (“We Are the Ones,” Huffington Post, August 24, 2011)?

We need changes different than incrementalism, wishful calls for “all of us to get along,” or fracturing of the nation into implacably hostile camps. The freedom movement again holds lessons.

Thelma Craig, a remarkable civil rights leader in southern Alabama whose organization, the Citizens League, elected more black candidates to local office than anywhere else in the South, most certainly believed in citizen-driven change — “We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For,” in the words of the freedom song. Craig, a battler in the hard knocks school of racial oppression, challenged those who advocated for cautious gradualism and those who called for militant polarization alike.

The article touches on some recent events that have exciting implications for higher education reform, including a January 10th White House meeting run by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Civic Mission of the Schools Coalition, and American Commonwealth Partnership, aimed at advancing civic learning and democratic engagement.

Be sure to take a look at the full article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harry-boyte/building-democracy-colleg_b_1471717.html.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher is the Founding Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). Sandy has an M.A. in International Management from SIT Graduate Institute, and also serves as a Research Deputy for the Kettering Foundation. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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