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The American Democracy Project (ADP) is a multi-campus initiative that seeks to create an intellectual and experiential understanding of civic engagement for undergraduates enrolled at institutions that are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The goal of the project is to produce graduates who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful actions as citizens in a democracy.

Metropolitan State University is one of over 200 AASCU institutions participating in the project. An ad hoc committee of faculty, students, staff, and administrators meet monthly to discuss issues and coordinate activities to fulfill goals. The university's Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship provides administrative leadership and staffing for the committee.

2012-13 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • Public viewings of the 2012 Presidential Debates drew broad cross-sections of students, staff, and community members. Faculty members led facilitated discussion among participants.
  • Pizza and Politics: Student Senate and ADP partnered with Debate MN to discuss the proposed “Voter ID” amendment to the Minnesota state constitution. More than 200 attendees participated in an informative, spirited and civil forum which explored this contentious issue.
  • Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Campaign: coordinated with Student Senate, Student Life and Leadership Development, and the MN State University Student Association, the campaign trained dozens of students organizers who delivered classroom presentations, conducted voter registration and voter education.
  • A deliberative dialogue on reducing gun violence in America connected 120 participants on two campuses with expert panelists and one another to consider, through discourse, the multiple dimensions of gun-related policy choices.  

2011-12 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • Metro State Votes 2012 provided activities and programs that informed, engaged, and involved students and the community in civic action for the fall 2012 election and beyond. Examples of program events and activities included Pizza and Politics, Caucus and Conventions 101, voter registration, faculty teach-ins, and a mock polling place.
  • "Hot Topic" Forums:
    - Racial Equity in Redistricting: a discussion how students, staff and faculty can become involved in influencing the redistricting process, locally and statewide, to create a more transparent, equitable and citizen-driven process overall.
    - The Marriage Amendment: a balanced discussion concerning the upcoming vote on the Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment that appeared on the November 2012 ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.
  • Metropolitan State began a new project called "Citizen Alum". Citizen Alum is part of a broader initiative officially launched at a White House meeting on January 10, 2012, where civic engagement projects at campuses across the country, including Metropolitan State, were highlighted. The main strategy, and starting point for the project, is listening to the stories of our alumni.

2010-11 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • Constitution Day, 2010, The Constitution: Historic Facts and Contemporary Fiction presented by Professor Emeritus Bob Fox, followed by Constitution Jeopardy!
  • During fall semester, twelve faculty members included the New York Times as a text in their courses.
  • United We Serve: Day of Service provided volunteer opportunities at twelve community-based organizations for faculty, staff and students. Do Something! Remembering 9/11 with the family and friends of Tom Burnett Jr. who turned the tragedy of his death on Flight 93, September 11, 2001, into the legacy of educating young people to be good citizens.
  • The Metro State Votes 2010 initiative included a Gubernatorial Debate, Mock Polling Place, roundtable discussions with candidates for Secretary of State, State Auditor and State Attorney General. Also included was a student-driven Get Out the Vote campaign.

2009-10 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • Metropolitan State University's minor in Civic Engagement was approved.
  • Fifth Annual Constitution Day held on September 14, 2009 with MN Supreme Court Justices G. Barry Anderson and Paul Anderson, Two Hundred Thirty-Eight Days to a Senator: Minnesotan's Civic Responsibility and the Constitution.
  • Seventy-six faculty, staff and students participated in the first annual Day of Service as part of the national United We Serve initiative.
  • The American Democracy Project hosted two Campus Conversation Brown Bags: Health Care Legislation and Controversy and the US Census!
  • Metropolitan State selected by the National ADP office to participate in a national initiative, eCitizenship: New Tools, New Strategies, New Spaces.
  • Come to Your Census! Campaign to educate the university community about the 2010 Census included presentations by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, State Demographer, Tom Gillaspy. Faculty, staff and students presented on the success of this initiative, Come to Your Census! at the Annual ADP meeting.
  • ADP offered three Webinars including Agents and Architects of Democracy: The Struggle for the Future of Higher Education.
  • Seventeen faculty members included the New York Times as a text in their courses.

2008-09 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • Metro State Votes '08 Campaign: A bold series of activities and programs to inform, engage and involve the university community in civic action during the historic election season.  The campaign featured faculty teach-ins and expert speaker presentations to candidate debates and voter registration. The University also composed a website directing the University community to resources on local events, election issues, candidate and voting information, and course resources.
  • Fourth Annual Constitution Day: featuring a Mock Polling Place, where faculty, staff, and community members met the Secretary of State, registered to vote, filled out a sample ballot, walked through a model polling place, and asked questions about the election process
  • Over 300 university and community members attended the United States Presidential Inaugural Program and Celebration
  • Twenty-six faculty utilized the  New York Times in their courses

2007-08 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • Third Annual Constitution Day: The Right to Vote: Historic Perspectives, Future Prospects featuring Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Green, Minnesota Supreme Court Justices Paul Anderson and Barry Anderson, a presentation from Fair Vote Minnesota on Instant Run-Off Voting, and a panel discussing New Faces- New Voters, engaging new voting populations.
  • Sixth Annual Civic Engagement Conference - Know the Neighborhood! East Side Immersion Experience
  • Campus Camp Wellstone - This intensive training was attended by 50 students interested in developing community organizing and political action skills.
  • Deliberative Democracy project on metropolitan transportation priorities and funding
  • Kickoff of Campus Conversations, with topics including a Caucus Participation, Young Voter Participation, and the 2008 Presidential and Local Elections

2006-07 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • Constitution Day - The Right to Vote: Conversations with MN Candidates for Secretary of State and a presentation entitled The Math Behind the Maps of the electoral college
  • Faculty and staff gave two presentations at the North Central Regional Meeting of the American Democracy Project: Do Joint Libraries Add Value for Their Patrons? and District Councils' Collaboratives in Minneapolis and St. Paul
  • Fifth Annual Civic Engagement Conference: Religion, the University, and Public Life
  • A Study-Abroad work-group convened to examine ways to make global education opportunities more visible and available to Metropolitan State students. The work group administered a student interest survey on study abroad to identify current trends and student needs.  
  • Nine faculty members used the New York Times in their classes this school year.

2005-06 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • Constitution Day - A conversation with members of the Minnesota Supreme Court which includes The Significance of Supreme Court Nominations in the Constitutional Context and Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom
  • Fourth Annual Civic Engagement Conference - Learning Beyond Borders: Engaging Student with the World at Home and Abroad
  • Jury Project - Over 700 students participated in a survey sponsored by ADP and the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, indicating their attitudes towards jury duty and jury service.
  • Camp Wellstone - This intensive training was attended by 70 students interested in developing community organizing and political action skills.
  • L'An: Four Jewish Characters in Search of Israel's Future - four different perspectives on Israel/Palestine and the pull out of Gaza
  • ADP co-sponsored a "Welcome to the East Side" reception for the staff of the Mexican Consulate.

2004-05 American Democracy Project Initiative Examples

  • University-Community Voter Registration and Turn-out Campaign - Beyond the Hype: Student-Faculty Perspective on the 2004 Election.
  • Third Annual Civic Engagement Conference - Uncommon Ground? Regional Perspectives on the Public Good
  • Approval of Community Organizing and Development minor
  • Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Center for Teaching and Learning grant secured to sponsor faculty development seminars supporting civic engagement


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