Civic Education and Democratic Engagement

October 11, 2012

This fall of 2012, we once again opened our doors to deliver on the promise of providing a high-quality education to over 550,000 degree-seeking as well as adult and continuing education students. As part of this year’s student experience, our country’s presidential election will, ideally, provide an educational platform for engaging students in civic education and a discourse about democracy and the future of our country.

Eleanor Roosevelt eloquently captured the importance of educating our future leaders in democracy and civic involvement when she stated:

"Our children should learn the general framework of their government; and then they should know where they come in contact with the government, where it touches their daily lives and where their influence is exerted on the government. It must not be a distant thing, someone else's business; but they must see how every cog in the wheel of a democracy is important and bears its share of responsibility for the smooth running of the entire machine."

In the spirit of these words and CUNY’s educational mission, the Central Office of Student Affairs (COSA) has been selected by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) as a lead institution to participate in a national initiative on civic learning and democratic engagement. NASPA has made a commitment to encourage and highlight the work of student affairs to make civic learning and democratic engagement part of every student’s college education. 

Starting this month and over the next year, COSA will invite all colleges to identify specific efforts, many of which are already planned, to promote clear and tangible civic learning and democratic engagement activities. Collaborations with students, programming offices, faculty and the broader community are encouraged through this initiative and will be documented over the course of this effort. 

It is our hope that CUNY students will not only participate in the democratic process during this election season but gain a better understanding where government “…touches their daily lives and where their influence is exerted on the government.”

I look forward to your participation in this important initiative, and wish you and your students great success for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Yours in education,

Frank D. Sanchez, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs