June 2012, Volume 16, Number 3

Powerful Partnerships

Bridging the Cultural Divide

Miami Dade College was recently chosen as one of just 10 U.S. colleges to play a leadership role in a new civic-learning initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Teams from the 10 institutions will develop curriculum and train faculty in the democracy-building project called “Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community and Democratic Thinking.” The three-year program is co-sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and The Democracy Commitment: An American Community College Initiative (TDC).

Colleges in the Bridging Cultures project are answering the call to action from a recent national report about the future of democracy, said Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president for AAC&U and NEH project co-director. The report urges higher education institutions to focus once again on civic learning and not limit coursework to workforce preparation.

Ensuring Democracy’s Future

Bridging Cultures is designed to help faculty infuse humanities classes with questions about community engagement. The project will advance learning outcomes, which form a cornerstone of MDC’s mission to prepare students to be responsible citizens.

Wolfson Campus’ Department of Arts and Philosophy is coordinating this endeavor in conjunction MDC’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy (ICED). Professors from North, Homestead, Kendall and Wolfson campuses will meet with their counterparts from other Bridging Cultures colleges this summer for intensive faculty development. One of the project’s goals is to make civic learning an expected rather than an optional element of college curricula for all students, including all those in career and technical programs.

Working Across Disciplines

MDC and the colleges selected to participate in this NEH program were chosen specifically for their expertise in civic learning.

“These colleges are targeting high-enrollment humanities courses and adopting proven civic pedagogies that together will offer more students opportunities to increase their knowledge, skills and commitments to making our multicultural democracy in the United States both stronger and more effective,” McTighe said.

In addition to increasing civic learning in their courses, all of the Bridging Cultures colleges will also reach out into their communities and work to strengthen partnerships with humanities councils in their states.

— BK

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