The link between democracy and education — educating for citizenship — can be traced back to ancient Athens. That relationship feels fragile and even tenuous today’s political climate, especially with current conversations in the US about the collapse of civic dialogue, support for dictatorships around the globe (and potential support for the same here in the US), and legislative pressures on K-12 and post-secondary institutions to curb free speech along with other civil and human rights. But now more than ever higher ed needs to model the tenets and tensions of a liberal democracy: promoting fact-based debate from multiple perspectives in order to find a communal way forward. I’m especially interested in the roles and responsibilities women leaders choose in teaching and modeling democratic principles on college campuses. In this episode I ruminate on how I came to care about this question in the first place.
The episode at a glance:
>>0:01. Welcome to The Uplift, the podcast obsessed with all things related to women’s leadership in higher ed.
>>01:17. Hello October! Thanks for joining me for a month of conversations about the relationship between democracy and higher education.
>>02:38. I want to ask the question, “what do women leaders believe their role is in educating for democracy?” which first occurred to me on a women’s college campus during the election season of 2016.
>>05:02. That question is personal for me. I grew up as a young girl who was shown how to advocate for herself, and also told not to do it. Here’s a glimpse into my sort of unusual background.
>>11:31. The question also is meaningful to me as an educator. Initially inspired by Bruce Burgett, now a professor at the University of Washington-Bothell, I have come to appreciate the ways teaching and learning can focus on content, and also itself model, deep civic engagement. A special shout out goes to the Sustainable City Year Program at the University of Oregon, which is where I first saw an institution systematically connect student learning to tangible community change.
>>16:35. Finally, the question is meaningful to me as an administrator. Ronald J. Daniels’s book What Universities Owe Democracy inspired me to think about the tensions of democracy and liberalism, and not only how we can teach those tensions (and their value) to our students, but also how we can model those tensions in the ways we self-govern as a way of helping students see and experience democracy in action.
>>22:50. We’ll explore this question in episodes throughout the month of October in conversation with a variety of women leaders around the country. Can’t wait!
Extra resources and readings – no affiliate marketing, just information-sharing:
Missouri Map, 2016 elections: https://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president/missouri/
Bruce Burgett, Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. University of Washington-Bothell. https://www.uwb.edu/ias/faculty-and-staff/bruce-burgett
Imagining America: https://imaginingamerica.org/
Campus Compact: https://compact.org/
Sustainable City Year Program at The University of Oregon: https://sci.uoregon.edu/sustainable-city-year-program-0
Ronald J. Daniels, president at JHU: https://president.jhu.edu/
Ronald J. Daniels, What Universities Owe Democracy. https://www.press.jhu.edu/books/title/12802/what-universities-owe-democracy
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