Critical Democratic Citizenship

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    • 00:00

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ: Hello.I'm Dr. Cynthia Gordon da Cruz, and I'ma faculty member in the Justice, Community, and LeadershipDepartment at Saint Mary's College of California.I'm going to be talking to you todayabout the term "critical democratic citizenship."It's a concept that I developed for my dissertationat the Harvard Graduate School of Educationin the spring of 2013.One of the things that motivated me to develop this conceptwas my passion for racial and social justice.

    • 00:22

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: At Harvard, I was working on a dissertation studyinghow post-secondary students becomecommitted to civically engaging to make the world a morejust place.When I began to look for student learning outcomesso that I could measure this concept,I was amazed by how many different options there were.For example, in one review of civic engagement literature,national reports, and academic programs,authors compiled a list of more than 60 different learning

    • 00:44

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: outcomes.The review outlined different kindsof civic knowledge, skills, and valuesthey believed that students neededto have in order to effectively civically engage.There were learning outcomes like knowledge of diversityand pluralism, or knowledge of how systems of oppression work,and skills like consensus-building and criticalthinking.I knew that if I wanted to be able to measure how studentscould learn competencies important for civic engagement,

    • 01:06

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: I'd have to choose carefully which capacities I thoughtwere most important, and why.So the concept that I developed, critical democraticcitizenship, is basically one answer to the questions--What do students need to know and beable to do in order to civically engagefor justice in a diverse and inequitable democracy?One of my first responses to answering the questionwas, it depends.

    • 01:27

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: For example, if a student wants to make the world a morejust place by being a community organizerin a low-income community, then theywould need skills like building relationships, sharing storieswith people one-on-one, and learning howto conduct a power analysis.But perhaps another student wantsto make the world a more just place by being a teacherin an under-resourced school.For that student, learning outcomeslike being able to practice culturally relevant pedagogy,

    • 01:50

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: or being able to use critical race theory to analyzethe equity of their classroom practices,would be more important.I began to see how easy it would beto create a new list of more than 60 learning outcomes.But such lists are not only overwhelming,they might not be particularly helpful for educators.I thought it might be more beneficial for educatorsto have a manageable list of learning outcomes.This way, the outcomes could actually

    • 02:12

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: be used to design coursework.And it'd be possible to measure the outcomes so that educatorscould see if they're actually helping students learn.When I chose the learning outcomesfor critical democratic citizenship,I selected learning outcomes that were specific enoughto be helpful to educators with a goal of supportingcivic engagement for justice while simultaneouslybe broad enough to apply to a wide spectrum of universities

    • 02:34

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: across a range of disciplinary boundaries.It's worth noting that the set of six outcomes I choseis not intended to be the only possible six learning outcomes,but rather, they're intended to be one possible set.University programs with more specific program aimscould use these six learning outcomes as a baseon which to add more specific learning outcomes.

    • 02:56

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: So the six learning outcomes for critical democratic citizenshipare participation, openness to multiple perspectives,controversy with civility, active thinking,justice orientation, and structural thinkingabout racial equality.Together, these capacities make upcritical democratic citizenship.So let me tell you a little bit moreabout what each one of these learning outcomes means,

    • 03:16

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: and why I chose them.Remember, my goal was to choose learning outcomesthat would support students' learning howto civically engage for justice in a diverse and inequitabledemocracy.So first I considered engagement in a democracy.This is what led me to the learningoutcome of participation.Westheimer and Kahne define participationas involvement or actions in collective, community-basedefforts in local, state, and national issues

    • 03:38

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: and for the general betterment of one's communities.[Westheimer, J., & Kahne, J. (2004).What kind of citizen?The politics of educating for democracy.American Educational Research Journal, 41(2),237 269.] The importance of widespread participationfor a functioning democracy is supported by numerous politicaltheorists.And what I liked about Westheimer's and Kahne'sdefinition was that it was broad enoughto cover multiple different kinds of civic actions.For example, participation could be voting,but it could also be trying to influence

    • 03:59

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: friends' political opinions by blogging on a social issue.The key aspect of the learning outcomeis a commitment to participate in various sorts of waysfor the benefit of the public good.To choose the next two learning outcomes,I considered the context of the US, the diverse democracy.So I wanted to choose learning outcomesthat would support students in being able to interactcompetently with diversity.

    • 04:19

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: The first is called openness to multiple perspectives.This learning outcome comes from the multi-university intergroupdialogue project. [Gurin, P., Nagda, R., & Zuniga, K. (2011).Multi-university intergroup dialogue project guidebook.Retrieved from http://sitemaker .umich.edu/migr/files/migr_guidebook.pdf.] They find this as the tendencyof an individual to think from the perspective of anotherindividual.Civic participation in the US will increasinglybe taking place amongst racially,ethnically, and socioeconomicallydiverse citizens.

    • 04:39

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: Openness to multiple perspectives,or being able to think from the perspectiveof another individual, is an important skillfor working together with diverse others.The next learning outcome for interacting competentlywith diversity is called controversy with civility.Controversy with civility is based on the assumptionthat people need to engage civilly with conflict in orderto develop new and creative solutions to social problems.

    • 05:02

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: It comes from the leadership for social change model writtenabout recently by Komives and Wagner. [Komives, S.R.,& Wagner, W. (2009).Leadership for a better world: Understanding the social changemodel of leadership development (1st ed.).San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass]As diverse citizens engage to improve the common good,they will encounter problems for which we've not yetachieved solutions.For example, what policies, laws, or actionsare needed to resolve the racial opportunitygap in access and outcomes to high school education?Citizens will not only have multiple and different

    • 05:24

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: perspectives on how to resolve complex issues like these,but these different ideas are likely to conflictwith one another.So students will need to be able to engage civilly with conflictin order to productively address these public issues.So a quick review.I described one learning outcome to facilitateengaging in democracy.This was participation.And I described two learning outcomes

    • 05:45

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: for interacting competently with diversity.These were openness to multiple perspectives and controversywith civility.But what about engaging for justicein the face of inequity?In one of my dissertation articles,using a spectrum of political, social, and economic measures,I outlined the current context of the US.And what I found was persistent racial and ethnic inequity.Whether I look at access and outcomes

    • 06:07

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: in education, access to health care,representation in the US government, household wealth,the statistics are, unfortunately, similar.On average, blacks, Latinos, and Native Americanshave less access to opportunitiesto achieve educational, economic, and political successthan whites and, in some cases, Asian Americans.So the next learning outcomes aremeant to prepare students to engage for justice

    • 06:29

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: in this context, a racially and ethnically inequitabledemocracy.The first learning outcome to this end is active thinking.Active thinking describes a tendency and motivationfor individuals to think deeply.They analyze the root causes of individual actionsor behaviors.It's another outcome from the multi-university intergroupdialogue project. [Gurin, P., Nagda, R., & Zuniga, K. (2011).Multi-university intergroup dialogue project guidebook.Retrieved from http://sitemaker .umich.edu/migr/files/migr_guidebook.pdf.]Multiple theorists argue that developing

    • 06:50

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: effective civic action strategiesto build a more racially just societyrequires understanding the root and structural causesof inequity.This is what active thinking measures.Active thinkers are well positionedto analyze how social institutions maybe perpetuating inequity and collectively work with othersto rectify the situation.The next learning outcome to prepare

    • 07:10

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: students to address racial inequityis a justice orientation.According to Westheimer and Kahne,a citizen with a justice orientationthinks about their relationships amongstsocial, economic, and political forcesand pays explicit attention to injustice, social movements,and systematic change. [Westheimer, J.,& Kahne, J. (2004).What kind of citizen?The politics of educating for democracy.American Educational Research Journal, 41(2),237 269.] Preparing the learning outcome of active thinking with

    • 07:30

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: a justice orientation could improve students' preparationto civically engage in ways that promote justice in the UScontext.Taking a practical example-- thinkabout a citizen going to the pollsfor the state of California to vote onwhether to repeal Proposition 13.So Proposition 13 limits property taxesto 1% of the value of the property,as well as assessing the property at its 1975 value,

    • 07:53

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: and restricting increases in property valueto an inflation factor of 2% or less per year.Theoretically, a person who thinks actively with a justiceorientation would investigate the relationshipbetween property taxes, state-level school fundingpolicies, and educational inequalityin order to determine how to vote.I argue these are important considerations in order

    • 08:13

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: to vote in a way that supports educational accessand opportunity for the greatest number of citizens.The final learning outcome intendedto prepare students to address racial and ethnic inequityis called structural thinking about racial inequality.Structural-level explanations focus on policies, laws,and cultural practices that could impedethe success of members of particular groups,

    • 08:34

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: such as prejudice, discriminationin hiring and promotion practices, and funding laws.These are in contrast to individual-level explanationsfor inequality that focus on personal attributesand characteristics, such as effort or cultural values.This learning outcome is based on an article by Lopez, Gurin,and Nagda and a similar learning outcomefrom the multi-university intergroup dialogue

    • 08:54

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: project. [Nagda, B. A., Gunn, P., & Lopez, G. E. (2003).Transformative pedagogy for democracy and social justice.Race, Ethnicity & Education, 6(2), 165.]Our democracy faces a prevalence of individualistic explanationsfor group race inequities.These come from education, films, news,other kinds of media.The difference between individual-level andstructural-level explanations canbe seen in an example like how someoneexplains racial inequality in education test scores.

    • 09:15

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: An individual-level explanation might focus on lack of effort,or assert that a particular culture doesnot "value education," whereas a structural-level explanationwould consider things like racially unequal accessto highly qualified teachers, well-resourced schools,most student-to-teacher ratios and/or high expectations.US culture and media tend to encourage attention

    • 09:37

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: to individual choices and often maskthe role of differentially available structuresof opportunity.To be prepared to positively impact the racial justice of USdemocracy, citizens need knowledgeof the structural causes and impactsof racial and ethnic inequality.Because logically, awareness of the presenceof systematic racial inequalitiesis a precursor to being able to develop strategies

    • 09:58

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: for deconstructing such systems.While diverse citizens who are aware of systematicracial and ethnic privilege and oppressionwill undoubtedly have varied solutions to public issues,I argue, on average, citizens whoare aware of the multi-faceted causes of racial inequalityare in a better position to engage in US democraciesin ways that deconstruct such inequalities.

    • 10:20

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: The US is growing increasingly diverse and, at the same time,racial and ethnic justice has not been achieved.To develop citizens prepared for engagement in a democracy,in a diverse but inequitable democracy,one set of possible higher education learning outcomesis participation, openness to multiple perspectives,controversy with civility, active thinking,

    • 10:41

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: justice orientation, and structural thinkingabout racial inequality.Together these skills make up critical democraticcitizenship.It is one strategy for preparing studentsto deconstruct structural racial inequitiesand realize the ideal of a more just, democratic nation.In terms of how critical democratic citizenship canapply to research, I've already been

    • 11:01

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: able to apply these learning outcomesin a multi-year study at the University of California,Berkeley.I measured student learning in their diversity courserequirement.I utilized these learning outcomeswith a quantitative methodology called structural equationmodeling to measure the effect of inequalitycontent and community-engaged scholarshipon student learning for civic engagement.I developed the term "critical democratic citizenship"

    • 11:25

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: with the goal of establishing learning outcomesfor measuring how post-secondary students becomecommitted to civically engaging to make the world a morejust place.My hope is that post-secondary educators and communitymembers committed to developing students for civic engagementfor justice will be able to use these learningoutcomes to design course contentand pedagogy, co-curricular programs,

    • 11:45

      DR. CYNTHIA GORDON DA CRUZ [continued]: and to be able to measure student learning.

Critical Democratic Citizenship

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Abstract

Dr. Cynthia Gordon da Cruz discusses her research in developing students for civic engagement for justice in the context of a diverse and inequitable democracy. She discusses learning outcomes that support such engagement as a goal that schools can strive for with tools to measure their success.

Critical Democratic Citizenship

Dr. Cynthia Gordon da Cruz discusses her research in developing students for civic engagement for justice in the context of a diverse and inequitable democracy. She discusses learning outcomes that support such engagement as a goal that schools can strive for with tools to measure their success.

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