UMBC Center for Democracy and Civic Life

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The Center for Democracy and Civic Life helps people develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to create healthy communities and tackle challenges together. Our work builds from the premise that civic life encompasses everyday settings and relationships through which people can generate the power to shape their world.

The Center produces, inspires, and shares innovations in civic and democratic engagement, and supports collaborative activity that helps to build thriving civic cultures at UMBC and in communities involved in the Center’s work.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
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    Communicating Racial Theory in Effectiveness Work: A QuantCrit Imperative
    Blissett, Richard; Wang, Shuyang; Schultz, Daniel; Ortiz, Roberto D.
    The inclusion of race in models that estimate the effectiveness of educational interventions presupposes a relationship between race and other variables of interest. However, we make the argument in this paper that left unexplained, this presupposition may contribute to the maintenance of essentialist theories that uphold racism. To rectify this problem, we outline an argument for more thorough engagement with racial theory to enact the imperative in QuantCrit to take responsibility for dismantling harmful ideologies. Supporting this argument is our empirical assessment of existing quantitative effectiveness research, in which we find that across the field, there is a dearth of racial theory that would justify the inclusion of race and work to combat essentialist assumptions about race. We conclude with recommendations for reflective practice with a primary focus on communicating racial theory explicitly in quantitative work. In other words, we emphasize that explaining why race would matter for inclusion in a model is important for both doing sound quantitative work and actively contributing to changing racial narratives in our current sociopolitical context.
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    The Campus as Civic Community: Shaping Institutional Culture to Motivate and Empower Students as Citizens
    (Oxford College of Emory University, 2006) Hoffman, David B.
    Civic engagement programs in higher education often focus on teaching students that voting and providing voluntary service are moral responsibilities. Relatively few campuses are preparing students for important but often neglected citizen roles such as working with others to create resources and solve social problems. This article proposes that colleges and universities can best motivate students to seek these relatively challenging roles if they establish empowering civic practices as central to their campus cultures. Promising practices include promoting democratic classrooms, welcoming student participation in campus governance, and fostering humane relationships.
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    Democratic Agency and the Visionary’s Dilemma
    (Association of American College and Universities, 2015) Hoffman, David; Berger, Craig; Bickel, Beverly
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    Higher Education’s Role in Enacting a Thriving Democracy
    (Campus Compact, 2018-11-02) Hoffman, David; Domagal-Goldman, Jennifer; King, Stephanie; Robinson, Verdis
    The essays in this collection reflect the collaborative work and thoughts of participants in three national higher education networks focused on civic learning and democratic engagement. The three networks, the American Association of State College and Universities’ American Democracy Project, the NASPA LEAD Initiative, and The Democracy Commitment, first convened together in New Orleans for the inaugural Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting in 2015. Since then, the three organizations have convened the annual CLDE conference and worked with colleagues to envision the thriving democracy toward which our work is directed, aligning learning outcomes, pedagogies, and strategies with this vision. The five essays in this collection were originally published on the Forbes platform from November 2017 to April 2018. The emergent CLDE Theory of Change described in these essays remains a work in progress. While we believe that the theory in its current iteration offers a rich framework for building the democratic contexts and cultures necessary for advancing a thriving democracy, we recognize that colleagues like you will be able to expand on this work and apply it in powerful ways. We hope that you’ll share your insights and applications with us. Thank you to our partners and colleagues for being sources of inspiration for this work. Together we will enact the thriving democracy we have yet to actualize.
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    (Scholars Strategy Network, 2013-09-11) Blissett, Richard
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    Seeing is more than believing: Visual media, social media, and anti-racism on college campuses
    (Syracuse University Press) Blissett, Richard; Baker, Dominique J.
    Recent years have seen a rise in activism on college campuses in the United States that has not been seen for many years. One particularly interesting wave of movements is those campaigns that arose in the wake of I, Too, Am Harvard in early 2014, in which students used visual media to share stories of marginalization and push for anti-racism on their university campuses. Over the course of two years, the campaign spread rapidly across the nation and world to over 40 campuses, where it took on its own life at each. Here we highlight, based on our observations as well as evidence gathered from our broader research agenda, the important role of visual and social media in the spread and success of these movements. We argue that the use of these new forms of communication and media was instrumental in defining the political influence of these student protests.
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    Unequal pay for equal work? Unpacking the gender gap in principal compensation
    (Elsevier, 2021-04-02) Grissom, Jason A.; Timmer, Jennifer D.; Nelson, Jennifer L.; Blissett, Richard
    We investigate the male–female gap in principal compensation in state and national data: detailed longitudinal personnel records from Missouri and repeated cross-sections from the nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). In both data sets, we estimate substantively important compensation gaps for school leaders. In Missouri, female principals make approximately $1,450 less annually than their male colleagues with similar characteristics, including experience level and degree attainment, leading the same school in different years. Gaps are present in both base salary and extra duty salary, and are only partially explained by career paths or workplace sorting. SASS analyses show that women make about $1,000 less than men nationally, on average, a gap that even grows larger once accounting for individual and workplace characteristics, teacher-supplied effectiveness ratings, and reported hours worked. The presence of these residual gaps after accounting for many supply-side explanations may signal gender discrimination in school principal compensation.
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    Tools for Living Democracy: Putting the CLDE Theory of Change into Practice
    (Digital Commons, 2020) Hübler, Romy; Hoffman, David B.; Berger, Craig; Domagal-Goldman, Jennifer; King, Stephanie
    The Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Theory of Change (Hoffman, Domagal-Goldman, King, & Robinson, 2018) addresses four key questions relating to vision/purpose, learning outcomes, pedagogy, and strategy for higher education’s work in preparing students for participation in civic life. In this article, we elaborate on the pedagogy question, offering civic tools and practices faculty and student affairs educators can use to support student learning and foster socially just, civically engaged institutions and communities.