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Participants In, Not Spectators of, Democracy: The Discourse on Civic Responsibility in Higher Education
Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning (2000)
  • Dilafruz R. Williams, Portland State University

Civic Responsibility and Higher Education contains a critique of the present landscape of higher education, one driven by market forces and pulled in a variety of directions to satisfy its consumers. Its contributors lament that what is lost in the emergent reductionist and utilitarian sensibility of higher education is a discussion of what it means to be “educated” in a democratic society. To counter this trend, Ehrlich and his colleagues challenge us to bring to the center of the discourse on higher education its civic and moral role. However, at present, higher education is in a double-bind. In an era of decreasing public funding and support, it needs to satisfy the market for its very survival, while simultaneously providing an avenue to critically examine the political and social forces that are shaping its mission. By imploring us not to take democracy for granted, Ehrlich and his colleagues hope to re-couple higher education’s responsibility and accountability with the creation of a reflective public capable of sound judgment. Neither alarmist nor simply critical, this volume also presents constructive practices to re-engage higher education with community. In what follows, I will extract the major themes that are woven in these rich essays and also suggest some ways to further the discourse of civic responsibility in higher education.

  • Service learning,
  • Experiential learning,
  • Critical thinking
Publication Date
Fall 2000
Publisher Statement
Copyright by Michigan Publishing and the University of Michigan Library
Citation Information
Dilafruz R. Williams. "Participants In, Not Spectators of, Democracy: The Discourse on Civic Responsibility in Higher Education" Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning Vol. 7 (2000)
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