Political Science Now

Partnering with Campus and Community to Promote Civic Engagement

Chapter 15: Partnering with Campus and Community to Promote Civic Engagement: Miami University’s Citizenship and Democracy Week

John ForrenMiami University

For political scientists already shouldering other professional responsibilities, the prospect of creating and institutionalizing a broad new civic engagement program on campus may seem quite daunting.  How can a civically minded faculty member work effectively with colleagues, campus administrators and community partners to establish a high-impact program?  This chapter examines one successful model of grassroots interdisciplinary collaboration – Miami University’s annual ‘Citizenship and Democracy Week’ – that offers valuable practical lessons for faculty members interested in establishing and leading such efforts at other institutions.  As the chapter details, creating and maintaining the annual Miami program – which now involves dozens of separate events each year, staged at multiple community and campus venues – has required the project’s leaders to work creatively with faculty, staff and community partners to manage a range of significant organizational, logistical, political and personal challenges.  Yet the results to date have been quite positive:  among other things, Citizenship and Democracy Week has yielded closer “town-gown” ties, stronger on-campus relationships across disciplinary lines, deeper integration of curricular and co-curricular programming, and, most important of all, enhanced levels of civic knowledge and interest in politics among its participants.

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About the Author

John Forren is an assistant professor in the department of justice and community studies at Miami University. Forren’s research interests are American constitutional law and history, criminal justice, judicial politics, public policy making, and civic engagement. He has written on a range of issues including the development of federal workplace safety standards in Congress; the state of “civic health” in Ohio; the responses of various policymakers to US Supreme Court decisions; the evolution of First Amendment doctrines in the lower courts; and the policy implications of presidential decision making regarding social service delivery by faith-based groups. His writings and commentary have appeared in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Journal of Markets and Morality, PS: Political Science & Politics, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Law and History Review, the Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties in America, Democracy in America, and Major Acts of Congress. He is also coauthor of both the 2013 and 2016 publications of the Ohio Civic Health Index Report, published by the National Conference on Citizenship.

Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines / Copyright ©2017 by the American Political Science Association / pp: 215-229