Throughout his career, David Scobey has worked to connect civic and community-based learning to higher education, work that has led to his current position as the founding dean of the newly formed New School for Public Engagement. In recognition of Scobey’s commitment to issues of democratic education, last year the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) invited him to join its national taskforce on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.
On January 10, the AACU task force had a live national audience, as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan welcomed them to the White House for a national convening, For Democracy’s Future: Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission., The meeting, which was broadcast live on the White House’s website, called together policymakers, K-12 teachers, university professors and others, to discuss strategies for making public engagement and a cornerstone of education at all levels.
In addition, the meeting marked the release of the Civil Learning and Democratic Engagement’s report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future. Prepared at the request of the U.S. Department of Education, the report draws on a series of roundtable discussions on community renewal. The AAC&U responds to widespread concern about the democracy’s anemic civic health and calls for investing in higher education’s capacity to significantly replenish our nation’s social, intellectual, and democratic capital.,
Executive Dean Scobey says that A Crucible Moment was animated by the same values, concerns, and aspirations that underlie The New School for Public Engagement: a commitment to the centrality of higher education to the renewal of democratic culture and public engagement; a concern that both academic life and democratic life were growing thinner and more fragmented because of losing their interconnection; and a confidence that publicly-engaged education will have vibrant results for both the quality of education and the quality of public life.,