Educating for Democracy: Campus Based Democratic Engagement

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This free virtual series asks what it takes to build a vibrant, responsive and inclusive democracy in Canada.

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Democracy Dialogues Season 3

This free virtual series asks what it takes to build a vibrant, responsive and inclusive democracy in Canada. The objective of the series is to answer some of the biggest questions and concerns we have about democracy, political power, and our capacity for a just and effective response to societal challenges. At The Democratic Engagement Exchange, we bring together innovative community leaders, dedicated public servants, and leading scholars from across Canada.

Episode 3: Educating for Democracy: Campus Based Democratic Engagement

With Nancy Thomas, Director, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

DATE: Tuesday, March 9th

TIME: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

Presented in partnership with Elections Canada

Colleges and universities are political spaces. Students are shaped by political events. But for too many students in our post-secondary institutions, there is no educating for democracy. As events around the world remind us daily, we cannot take democracy for granted.

In Canada, there is a pressing need to develop a more robust approach to fostering democratic participation at our colleges and universities. But what does this look like? How can we educate for democracy? How do we address existing inequalities in the participation? These challenges exist at all levels, from campus governance to the federal government.

Join us for a conversation with Dr. Nancy Thomas, Director for the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University. Dr. Thomas and her team are dedicated to answering these challenging questions through cutting edge research and innovative solution based programs. She will provide valuable insights of her experience with the IDHE, including running the USA’s largest research study on student voting and attitudes towards democracy.

We will be joined by special guest host and incoming Ryerson provost Jennifer S. Simpson. With over 20 years in academia and expertise in higher education, race and equity, critical theory and pedagogy, and communication, Jennifer is a collaborative, reflective leader, deeply invested in the role of universities in public life. She is the author of Long for Justice: Higher Education and Democracy's Agenda where she makes a compelling case for the critical role that universities must play to fulfill democracy's promise to support a just society and address social inequities.

About our speaker

Nancy L. Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. IDHE is an applied research center that studies higher education’s role in American democracy and supports college and university student political learning and participation. The Institute's signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) examines student voting rates, patterns, and conditions. Through NSLVE, nearly 1,200 U.S. colleges and universities receive tailored reports containing their students’ aggregate voting rates following each federal election. Her work and scholarship interests include college student civic learning and participation in democracy, campus climates for political engagement, deliberative democracy, political equity and inclusion, and campus free speech and academic freedom. She holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a law degree from Case Western Research University’s School of Law. She is also an associate editor at the Journal of Public Deliberation, a senior associate with Everyday Democracy, and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

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