Cal State East Bay Finalizes Plan for Civic Engagement
The university reaffirms its commitment to teaching students the value of democratic action
Cal State East Bay is a leader among the nearly 1,000 universities nationwide that are committed to promoting civic engagement among students. Last year, President Leroy M. Morishita participated in an e-signing with other university presidents and chancellors from around the country in honor of the 30th anniversary of Campus Compact, a higher-education coalition that promotes citizenship-skill development for students and helps universities build meaningful community partnerships. The organization has been operating since 1985, and recently embarked on a campaign to reaffirm its mission of empowering students, faculty, staff and communities toward democratic action and responsibility through the signing of a Campus Compact Civic Action Statement.
Cal State East Bay has been a member of Campus Compact since 1995, and President Morishita currently serves as the board chair of California Campus Compact, a statewide affiliate of the national organization, which is housed at Cal State East Bay.
“Cal State East Bay creates a culture of engagement and responsibility through a variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities,” Morishita said. “Educating socially responsible citizens and future leaders is part of our university strategic commitment and threaded throughout departmental and program missions and values.”
In order to mobilize Cal State East Bay’s efforts toward civic learning and participation, the Center for Community Engagement has spent the past year completing a Civic Engagement Action Plan that identifies opportunities for students to practice what it means to be active citizens in a democracy.
“Community engagement is as an umbrella term wherein students and the university are connected to the community for a variety of outcomes,” said Mary D’Alleva, director of the CCE. “Civic engagement, by comparison, is helping students see beyond the importance of what they’re doing in the moment and asking what does it mean within the broader framework of a democratic society.”
Building upon the many activities and programs Cal State East Bay already has in place, such as the Freshmen Day of Service, Book-to-Action initiative and Project HOPE, CCE has identified numerous opportunities within those existing silos to maximize and increase collaboration across campus. Various components of the Campus Civic Engagement Action Plan, including revising curriculum within the General Studies course that is required for all freshmen; the development of benchmarks for community partnerships; and identifying assessment tools will be rolled out over the course of the next several years.
For example, D’Alleva hopes to expand the Freshman Day of Service by hosting “Saturdays of Service” on a quarterly basis for the campus community, work with Academic Advising and Career Education to advise students on entering civic-minded careers and create a university-wide matrix to assess where civic engagement is already happening and where relevant student activities can be added.
“We’re not saying we have to do all these things,” D’Alleva said. “We’re saying we are doing these things — and let’s do more of them, and let’s do them intentionally and let’s do them together. Signing the Campus Compact Action Statement is President Morishita waving the starting flag. Now we have the opportunity to not just talk but to do more. And it’s not only exciting because of the doing, but because it’s our responsibility to ask how well we are [performing] and what impact are we making in the world around us.”