The American Democracy Project

The American Democracy Project (ADP) prepares university graduates for a lifelong commitment to meaningful action for the public good—as citizens, professionals and community members in a democracy. Metropolitan State University is proud to be a founding member of ADP, launched in 2003 by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The ADP now involves over 250 campuses nation-wide. At Metropolitan State, the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship (ICES) provides administrative leadership for campus ADP activities.

Forums and events

ADP supports and leads collaborations across university departments that draw together academic and community expertise to inform and present opportunities for action on current, contested civic issues. Whether a debate, deliberative dialogue, presentation or full-day conference, past events have focused on gun control, ballot amendments to the Minnesota constitution, mass incarceration, health care, immigration, citizens’ rights and more.

Special projects

Recent examples of grant-funded (co-)curricular resources for students, scholars, K-12 youth and community members include:

  • hosting the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture traveling exhibit, Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and The March on Washington, 1963 for 650 visitors
  • sponsoring discussions on a National Endowment for the Humanities’ Created Equal film series for nearly 450 participants
  • bringing an exploration of Zora Neale Hurston’s book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, to university classes, local schools, libraries and artists through the National Endowment for the Arts “Big Read.”

Constitution Day (September 17)

Annual commemorations make learning the Constitution fun. Puzzle contests, Constitution Jeopardy and events on hot topics often accompany the distribution of free pocket-sized Constitution booklets and a treasure-trove of library resources utilized in courses.

Training Resources

ADP training resources are designed to hone the skills needed to influence civic conversation and decisions, including in higher education. ICES works with faculty to integrate civic work into curriculum, with students to build skills like facilitating dialogue on controversial issues, and employees, for example, to prepare for political caucuses. Training has occurred through in-person skill-building sessions, connections to practical experiences and partner organizations, webinars, conferences and workshops, and literature from the field. 

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) National Meeting

Metropolitan State faculty, staff and students join colleagues from around the country every June to exchange best practices in civic engagement in higher education. Insights, tools and models from this conference have launched several innovations on campus: Schools in the Prisons project, Metro State Votes and curricular revisions such as integrating Citizen Alum into WRIT 231: Focus on Community Engagement and adapting “The 7 Revolutions” (key factors affecting the future) to Criminal Justice Studies 350: Citizenship. CLDE is co-sponsored by ADP/AASCU, NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and The Democracy Commitment, a civic engagement association of two-year colleges.