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Abstract

Political Engagement in Higher Education Curricula

Submitted to the Teaching category of JOSC

Abstract

As more demands are made for universities and colleges to commit to public service, curricula in higher education may need to include the development of knowledge of and skills for political engagement. In an interview study, students, faculty members, and alumni at Walden University reflected on their understanding and experience of political action and working with policy-makers for social change. The responses overall indicated a general agreement that politics, political action, and policy making have roles to play in ensuring the lasting effects of social change activity, but they also indicated significant limitations to their effectiveness. Participants also showed a reticence to participating in political engagement. The findings suggest that understanding of and confidence in political engagement could be enhanced through connecting scholarly skills and knowledge to political activity and utilizing and stimulating personal interests and professional concerns as a basis for such activity. A curriculum that includes hands-on learning opportunities in social change may be most effective in preparing learners for political engagement.

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