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Teaching Faculty to Teach Civic Engagement: Interdisciplinary Models to Facilitate Pedagogical Success

Chapter 16: Teaching Faculty to Teach Civic Engagement: Interdisciplinary Models to Facilitate Pedagogical Success

by Sarah Surak, Salisbury University, Christopher JensenTowson University, Alison Rios Millett McCartney, Towson University and Alexander PopeSalisbury University

This chapter examines faculty development programming designed to support and encourage the incorporation of civic engagement assignments within normal curricular offerings. By assessing faculty development seminars at two comprehensive institutions, the authors identify the perceived benefits of participants as well as where improvements might be made. The purpose of this chapter is to serve as a model for universities developing programs to support faculty
efforts. Through focus groups with participating faculty, the authors find that key factors for success included financial, logistical, and programmatic support as well as the institutionalization of the recognition of efforts in merit, tenure, and promotion processes.

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About the Authors

Sarah Surak holds a joint appointment in the departments of political science and environmental studies at Salisbury University. She earned a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2006) and a PhD in planning, governance and globalization from Virginia Tech (2012). Surak codirects Salisbury University’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE). With her colleague Alexander Pope, she facilitates PACE’s Civic Engagement Across the Curriculum (CEAC) program as well as the university’s Presidential Citizen Scholars Program. Together they are coordinating a multi-year research project to collect and analyze data on the delivery of a civic engagement component in undergraduate courses. Her teaching and research interests include civic engagement, environmental policy and political theory, comparative politics, public administration, and modern political and social theory.

Christopher Jensen is the director for the Office of Civic Engagement and Leadership at Towson University.  He has worked in higher education for 20 years in the areas of leadership development, community service/service learning, residential life, student activities, orientation, and fraternity and sorority life. Jensen has taught courses on interdisciplinary research and organizational psychology and currently is an adjunct faculty in the Towson University College of Education. He received his BA from the University of Michigan in studies in religion, a MA in student affairs administration from Michigan State University, and a PhD in educational leadership from Oakland University. His dissertation focused on the impact of community service experiences on students’ persistence in college. 

Alison Rios Millett McCartney is professor of political science and faculty director of the Honors College at Towson University outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She contributed to and coedited another volume on this topic, Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen, with Elizabeth Bennion and Dick Simpson in 2013 and has published other work connecting civic engagement education and international relations in the Journal of Political Science Education. McCartney is also very involved in undergraduate research and teaching international negotiation simulations. She has received several teaching awards including the University of Maryland System Regents’ Award for Mentoring, the Maryland-DC Campus Compact Award for Service-Learning Scholarship, and the Towson University Service-Learning Faculty Member Award. She received her BA from Syracuse University and her masters and PhD from the University of Virginia.


Alexander Pope is assistant professor in the Department of Education Specialties at Salisbury University. He completed his BA in history/philosophy at The Colorado College (2004); his MA in history and in curriculum & instruction at Texas State, San Marcos (2008); and his PhD in social studies education at Teachers College, Columbia University (2013). Pope codirects Salisbury University’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE). With his colleague Sarah Surak, he facilitates PACE’s Civic Engagement Across the Curriculum (CEAC) program as well as the university’s Presidential Citizen Scholars Program. Together they are coordinating a multi-year research project to collect and analyze data on the delivery of a civic engagement component in undergraduate courses. His research investigates, among other things, the way civic engagement experiences influence student and teacher attitudes towards their communities.

Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines / Copyright ©2017 by the American Political Science Association