Talking Politics

March 19, 2014    12:00-1:30 PM (Eastern)


  Nancy Thomas   
Director, Initiative for the Study of Higher Education and Public Life and Campus Counts
Tufts University

Margaret Brower  
Program Administrator, National Study on Learning, Voting and Engagement
Tufts University


About this Session:

According to the 2013 student survey from the Harvard Institute of Politics, 53% of college students engage in community service whereas only 11% participate in a government or political organization or issue. The low frequency of political participation suggests that 11% is an overstatement. If colleges and universities are to live up to their charge of educating citizens in a diverse democracy, there's simply no way around the political dimensions of both public problems and nearly all academic disciplines. This webinar will examine student political learning and engagement both in theory and in practice. The presenters will consider the challenges and barriers to educating for democracy, including the tensions around student free speech and faculty academic freedom. They will then share two research studies they are conducting to capture and understand this complex web of political attitudes, behaviors, and interactions. One study analyzes political participation concretely by measuring registration and voting rates on campuses. The other study is a qualitative investigation of political and civic practices, programs, and student experiences as they relate to the campus climate. The presenters encourage those who attend the webinar to actively participate in this conversation to help shape the direction of this research.

About the Presenters:

Nancy ThomasNancy Thomas, JD, EdD, joined CIRCLE (the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) at Tufts University in the summer of 2012 to design and launch national research on higher education and college student political learning and engagement in democracy. The signature study is the National Study on Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), a national database and service to campuses interested in learning their student aggregate registration and voting rates. Dr. Thomas' relationship with NERCHE goes back to 1998 when she became a senior associate, working with then-director Zelda Gamson on the national movement to advance higher education's civic mission. She has worked on a broad range of issues in democratic civic engagement: deliberative democracy, curricular design, faculty development, and free speech and civil discourse. She also co-founded and directs the Democracy Imperative (TDI), a national network of academics and practitioners interested in advancing deliberative democracy in and through higher education and is a senior associate with Everyday Democracy, a civic organization that works locally and nationally to increase citizen engagement in community and policy change.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , MA, came to CIRCLE (the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) as a recent graduate from the University of Michigan's Higher Education Master's program with a concentration in public policy. While at the University of Michigan, she worked for the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good and was affiliated with projects specific to increasing access to higher education through policy reform. She also was a member of the Co-planning committee for the Community Engagement Consortium, an emerging initiative to coordinate community engagement efforts across three institutions: University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. At Tufts University, as the program administrator for the National Study on Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) she manages the process for participating in the study and disseminating campus reports. She also is part of the qualitative research team designing and conducting case studies on campus climate and political engagement.

Session Recording

Session PowerPoint Slides

Participant List

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