Our Guiding Principles
The mission of the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy is:
To transform learning, strengthen democracy and contribute
meaningfully to the common good by awakening and empowering
students for lifelong civic engagement.
Education at MDC should be transformative, developing ethical and responsible global citizens. All students should learn to connect their knowledge with real-world problems, and to approach those problems with a sense of personal and civic responsibility. Community colleges, including MDC, are rooted deeply in local, regional, national and global communities that are in critical need of the civic leadership and practical democratic capacity of our students for their own political and social health. We have a responsibility to prepare students for lives of engaged citizenship in a diverse world.
We educate students about democracy and prepare them for responsible political engagement. We do this by developing their understanding of the civic sphere and providing positive experiences of acting in the public realm. Civic engagement is an antidote to cynicism and apathy, and is essential to the effective functioning of democratic societies.
Experiences in civic participation are important for developing engaged citizens for many reasons. First, academic learning is strengthened by engaging in meaningful service and reflection. Secondly, active experience aids students in discovering areas of civic engagement to which they can commit, for life. Without trying various active engagements, students simply cannot know what they are best suited for in their communities. Finally, in addition to a profound personal gain as a result of service, work in the community also teaches that meaningful civic engagement is not simply an individual, private endeavor, but one that is highly relational. Participants learn that there is a common good greater in scope than the individual, and that this common good requires their attention and stewardship through active participation.
Our Guiding Principles:
- We serve as the primary catalyst for MDC’s efforts to develop in our student's knowledge and understanding of civic leadership and democracy, as well as lifelong, active civic engagement for and the common good.
- We bring to the forefront and promote the importance of the connections between civic engagement, democracy and higher education.
- Our work furthers the MDC value of engaging with the larger community in ways that actively improve social conditions.
- Our definition of “the larger community” is broadly inclusive and open to whichever creative initiatives, interpretations or geographic boundaries best serve our students and advance the goals of civic engagement for the common good.
- Our programs deepen students’ awareness and understanding of social and political issues.
- Our programs awaken and activate students, helping them to identify their passions, and apply these to bettering themselves and their own communities through civic action.
- Our programs teach students to solve public problems collaboratively, across differences of identity, ideology and perspective.
- We promote the use of civic engagement and service-learning as integral and standard parts of the student experience, ones that contribute meaningfully to the achievement of MDC’s learning outcomes.
- We serve both the MDC and larger communities by acting as a resource and networking hub for service learning and civic engagement, facilitating relationships wherever they may advance the Institute’s mission and be mutually beneficial to the parties.
- Each partnership or collaboration in which we engage should be reciprocal, providing benefits to all parties.
- Our programs further the aim of sustainability, and principles of sustainable development will be addressed in everything we do.