White House event to feature NAU’s civic engagement success

A successful program of sustainability-based community engagement at Northern Arizona University will receive national attention in January during an event hosted at the White House.

“For Democracy’s Future—Higher Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission” will highlight NAU’s accomplishments with helping students develop the capacities and skills for active citizenship through a growing network of community action research teams. For the past five semesters, the teams have been connecting NAU first-year undergraduate and graduate students with the local community and K-12 students on a range of projects that involve themes of sustainability.

NAU’s action research teams began five semesters ago as a collaboration of the First Year Seminar Program and the Program in Community, Culture and Environment, with mentoring from graduate students in the Master’s of Sustainable Communities program.

The Jan. 10 event in the nation’s capital stems from a collaboration of the American Commonwealth Partnership, the White House Office of Public Engagement, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Department of Education.

Some of the country’s most influential educators and policy makers, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, will participate in a day of panel discussions and breakout sessions.

NAU’s Romand Coles, Frances B. McAllister chair and director of Community, Culture and Environment, and NAU alum Nikki Cooley, a member of the Navajo Nation, will appear on one panel. Blase Scarnati, director of the First Year Seminar Program and Global Learning, is helping to organize the White House event and will conduct one of the breakout sessions.

Watch Inside NAU during the first week of January for more about the event.