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University of Alaska Anchorage
Project Title:Civic Engagement Certificate Institution Name:University of Alaska Anchorage Innovation Category:Research and Regional Stewardship Project Director:Judith Owens-Manley, Director, Center for Community Engagement & Learning Contact Information:(907) 786-4087 , jowensmanley@uaa.alaska.eduWebsite:http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/engage
Project Description:The Civic Engagement Certificate is a 30 credit academic program that students at UAA can earn along with any major. The 3 credit entry course, Introduction to Civic Engagement, satisfies a Social Sciences GER and places students in community agencies for a total of 20 hours, culminating in a "Be The Change" project proposal. A new addition this year will be a competitive internship to carry out the proposed project. This is followed by a community-based research course, an internship, and a capstone course for a total of 15 credits. The remaining 15 credits are planned from the student's discipline and supporting courseload with a community focus. The Certificate is noted on students’ transcripts, and students participate with majors in Environment & Society, Early Childhood Education, Social Work, in addition to other majors. Graduating seniors prepare an ePortfolio as an assessment of their learning and community experiences.

Students who earn the Certificate in Civic Engagement will achieve the outcomes of their majors and will be able to:

  • Demonstrate democratic skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and negotiation, necessary for addressing public problems at multiple levels;
  • Articulate public uses of their education and civic engagement;
  • Synthesize civic imagination and the abilities and needs of individuals, groups, and communities into a vision for the future;
  • Compose personal roles and ethical standards for participation in a diverse, global community.

  • Certificate students participate actively in their communities upon graduation;
  • Students report increased knowledge of community issues and solutions;
  • Students increase active engagement in campus and community as a result of their engagement in the Certificate program.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:Marketing and educational outreach about the Certificate program proved to be a challenge, as well as getting students to understanding how easily they could complete the program. Having dedicated faculty was not addressed in the initial launch of the program; it is chaired by the Center for Community Engagement & Learning Director, who also teaches the capstone and internship classes. After the first few years, a faculty committee identified that lack of a pathway between the five sections of the introductory course, which approximately 100 students each year enroll in. In that introductory course, students are very poignant in their growth of knowledge and efficacy in understanding and addressing community issues. The second course, Advanced Civic Engagement: Community Inquiry & Action was designed to give students a bridge between the introductory course and the internship that they are not yet ready for. Internships are individually planned, and capstones become research or creative projects with agencies or issues that students have built some knowledge or capacity around. The issue of funding permanent faculty remains, and we rely on adjunct faculty for the introductory course.
Evaluation Approach:Our Faculty Curriculum Committee for the Civic Engagement Certificate is responsible for ensuring the evaluation and assessment process. We rely upon students’ completion of an ePorfolio for the assessment of their progress and learning outcomes. Students use artifacts from their courses and community experiences and write short narratives to demonstrate their learning relative to the stated outcomes.
Potential for Replication:The Civic Engagement Certificate is a program that should be able to be replicated in any higher education setting. Partnerships with community agencies are important for the service-learning opportunities, especially for beginning students in the introductory courses and higher level opportunities as students move through their educational program.
Additional Resources:

Syllabi for the four core courses of the Civic Engagement Certificate Program can be provided upon request:

CEL A292 Introduction to Civic Engagement

CEL A392 Advanced Civic Engagement: Community Inquiry & Action

CEL A395 Civic Engagement Internship

CEL A450 Civic Engagement Capstone

A video testimonial regarding a civic engagement project by a student enrolled in the Civic Engagement Certificate Program: http://www.youtube.com/user/UAACCEL

CEO-to-CEO Contact:Tom Case , Chancellorchancellor@uaa.alaska.edu
(907) 786-1437
Date Published: Monday, April 1, 2013