Our aim is to determine whether increases in virtue literacy, civil rights literacy, and community engagement leads to growth in civic virtue. This project addresses important needs within our university and local community by facilitating meaningful community-engaged learning experiences and deepening our capacity to act as partner in addressing the ongoing impacts of historic injustice within a city known as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.
We begin with the creation of a Civil Rights and Civic Virtue Society for students, faculty, staff, and a community advisory board. The society will develop and implement curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities that situate the study of civic virtues within an exploration of local civil rights history. It will create curriculum for an annual summer seminar, society communities of practice, and first-year seminar experiences. It will secure community service opportunities for students and faculty. It will organize events featuring scholars and civil rights exemplars. It will host an annual conference for to advance knowledge of civil rights and civic virtues and for members to share from their learning. The society will create a website exhibiting our activities and recordings of events hosted throughout the year.
These efforts will enable us to address two big questions: Does participation in a community of practice increase engagement in civic activities and generate reflective insights about civic identity and commitment? and Do civil rights centered, character-focused curricula and pedagogies increase virtue literacy and civil rights literacy? This project will strengthen our university’s role as a community partner and advance knowledge about the promises of character education initiatives in higher education.