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North Shore Community College

Civic Learning Committee

Civic-Learning Courses at North Shore Community College

Civic learning is a term adopted by the BHE, in response to the Vision Project goal:

Providing students with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to be active, informed citizens.

A definition of this learning outcome was provided in the BHE’s Policy on Civic Learning in 2014:

Civic Learning means the acquisition of the knowledge, the intellectual skills and the applied competencies that citizens need for informed and effective participation in civic and democratic life; it also means acquiring an understanding of the social values that underlie democratic structures and practices.

  • The Knowledge component of civic learning includes an understanding of the United States, including its history and governmental traditions, other world societies, and the relationship(s) between and among these cultures and nations.
  • The Intellectual Skills component refers to qualities of mind necessary to engage effectively in civic activities.
  • The Applied Competencies component refers to the practical skills and capacities needed to engage effectively in civic activities
  • The Values component refers to understanding the social and political values that are associated with democratic and civic institutions.

In summer of 2015, the Department of Higher Education (DHE) formed a team to study the process of flagging or identifying civic learning courses at colleges and universities across the state as a way to respond to the Vision Project goal and advance this work. Out of this group came a set of designations and criteria to be used in a flagging process of courses in an effort to measure civic learning across our campuses. These designations included the following:

  • CL (Civic Learning) is for courses without an engagement component.
  • CLER (Civic Learning with Engagement Required)
    • The course description or syllabus articulates a substantial Civic Engagement activity which is explicitly linked to course learning goals and to at least one of the four elements of the Civic Learning definition.
    • Every student in the course is required to participate in the Civic Engagement activity (project or placement).
    • The Civic Engagement activity is designed to provide reciprocal benefits to both the students and a broader community or communities beyond the classroom (that broader community could be the campus community or a community beyond the campus).
    • The Civic Engagement activity includes a reflection component in which the student is required to report on, present, or explain the significance of the experience and locate it within its broader political, social or economic context.
  • CLEO (Civic Learning with Engagement Optional) is for civic learning courses which offer a choice between a Civic Engagement placement or project—as defined above—and another substantial project with a Civic Learning focus which does not require engagement beyond the classroom.

During academic year 2016-2017 NSCC will be piloting a process to flag Civic Learning courses. Students will begin to see identifiers on courses indicating if the above components are embedded in various courses. Student participation in these courses advances the mission, vision and values statements of NSCC as well as the Vision Project.

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