UNL named a lead institution in civic engagement

UNL student Rhaniece Choice offers a high five to an elementary school student during an Martin Luther King Jr. outreach event earlier this year.
UNL student Rhaniece Choice offers a high five to an elementary school student during an Martin Luther King Jr. outreach event earlier this year.

UNL is taking its place as a leading institution in a national initiative on civic learning and democratic engagement. UNL was named one of only 50 institutions in the nation as a Civic Learning Leadership Institution by Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the leading voice for the student affairs profession.

The announcement was made by Kevin Kruger, president at NASPA, and Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy, executive director emeritus at NASPA. The 50 universities become part of the Lead Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.

As a participating institution in NASPA's initiative, UNL will continue to develop partnerships to increase each student's commitment to being engaged and active citizens, serving their communities and undertaking leadership roles both on and off campus.

"NASPA has long been committed to ensuring that a college education embeds in students a commitment to civic engagement and citizenship," Kruger said. "Through the Lead Initiative, NASPA will highlight the unique contributions that student affairs professionals are making to democratic engagement and will develop tools for sharing the important lessons that will surely emerge from the work of these institutions."

Selected institutions, representing public and private four-year and two-year colleges and universities, have committed to a series of strategies to work with on and off campus constituents to influence students' ongoing commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement, including:

— Building clear and tangible civic learning and democratic engagement activities into student affairs division strategic goals and learning outcomes.

— Collecting and reporting data on the efficacy of campus efforts using tools that measure gains in civic learning and democratic engagement.

— Creating strategies in collaboration with students that increase civic learning and help solve community problems through collective action.

The UNL Center for Civic Engagement encourages students to connect curricular and co-curricular learning with opportunities to address critical human need through service, civic-related research and social change leadership. Through programs and services offered by the center, students acquire the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to advance community priorities and inspire a lifelong commitment to personal and social responsibility. Students may also earn a Certificate in Civic Engagement that is designed to help them connect what they learn in their general education courses with experiences outside the classroom. UNL's Center for Civic Engagement serves as a clearinghouse, facilitating communication between students, teaching and research faculty, and staff with identified community need, both local and global.

To learn more about NASPA's Lead Initiative, go to http://www.naspa.org/clde/lead_initiative.cfm.