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Facilitators

 

Harry BoyteHarry Boyte

Harry C. Boyte is a co-founder with Marie Ström of the Public Work Academy and Senior Scholar of Public Work Philosophy, both at Augsburg University. He also founded the international youth civic education initiative Public Achievement and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota, now merged into the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University. Boyte’s forthcoming book, Awakening Democracy through Public Work, Vanderbilt University Press 2018, recounts lessons from more than 25 years of revitalizing the civic purposes of K-12, higher education, professions, and other settings. In the 1960s, Boyte was a Field Secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and subsequently was a community and labor organizer in the South. Boyte has authored ten other books on democracy, citizenship, and community organizing and his articles and essays have appeared in more than 150 publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Political Theory, Chronicle of Higher Education, Policy Review, Dissent, and the Nation

 

Elaine EschenbacherElaine Eschenbacher

Elaine Eschenbacher is a civic leadership educator with more than twenty years of experience. She currently directs the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University which integrates rich histories of civic engagement, experiential education, and democracy-building in a vibrant center with local, regional, national, and international reach. Prior to joining Augsburg University in 2009, Eschenbacher served as associate director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Eschenbacher designs programs and delivers workshops on themes of civic agency, democratic and experiential education, community organizing, and public work locally and nationally so that people continually expand their capacity to shape their communities, futures, and worlds. She is a facilitator and trainer for the National Issues Forum model of deliberative dialogues and a regular facilitator democratic processes aimed at developing civic agency. She earned her master’s degree in leadership from Augsburg University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and teaches in the Leadership Studies program at Augsburg.

 

Dennis DonovanDennis Donovan

Dennis Donovan is the national organizer of Public Achievement at the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Along with Harry Boyte, Donovan was a key architect of Public Achievement, which is a theory-based practice of citizen organizing to do public work to improve the common good. Since 1997, Donovan has worked with K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and community groups locally, nationally and internationally as a speaker, trainer, consultant, and educator. Before joining the Center, Donovan worked in K-12 education for 24 years as a teacher and school principal. Under his leadership, Saint Bernard school in St. Paul won the St. Paul/ Minneapolis Archdiocesan Social Justice Award for work done to improve the North End community. Donovan was also a founder and education chair (1990 to 1997) of the St. Paul Ecumenical Alliance of Congregations (SPEAC). SPEAC has since grown into a statewide organization known as ISAIAH and is one of the most active partners in the national PICO organizing network. Donovan received the 2008 University of Minnesota Community Service Award. He earned a master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas and a bachelor’s of science degree in elementary education from the University of Minnesota.

Democracy as Way of Life

This blog post is adapted from selections from “Renewing the Democratic Purposes of Higher Education,” forthcoming from Association of Governing Boards Guardians Series.

It is commonplace for Americans to assume that our democracy is summed up in the rights of individuals to vote and in the institutional forms of government created to carry out the will of the people. Though voting and government systems are important, they are at best the “machinery” of our democracy.

Rather, we must embrace an understanding of democracy as a way of life, what the great social reformer Jane Addams called “democracy as a social ethic.” Democracy is the day-to-day work of all of us innovating together to solve common problems. As a shared enterprise, everyone has power to participate in democracy.

For higher education institutions, an understanding of democracy as a way of life has several implications. It means that the education we offer, aimed as it may be to particular careers, professions and other walks of life, is always at the same time preparatory for democratic citizenship. It also means that higher education institutions have civic purpose. The economic, social, and civic impact of colleges and universities are part and parcel of their roles in democratic culture.

There are certainly challenges to democracy in the United States today. Institutions of higher education have distinct opportunities to bolster democracy through the education they offer, as well as emerging practices:

Liberal Arts as the Practice of Freedom

Though political polarities might suggest otherwise, the definition of “liberal” in “liberal arts education” is in fact most closely related to the meaning of the Latin word “liberalis,” or freedom. Encompassing a wide range of disciplines and not easily fit into a standard package, the ethic of liberal arts education places primary value on freedom of thought, critical analysis, open-mindedness, adaptivity, empathy, and life-long learning, so that graduates cultivate the habits of mind and practice that contribute to a thriving democracy.

In our wider democracy, there is both a decreased trust in public institutions and an isolation from and distrust of people who are different from us. There is meaningful opportunity in embracing the capacity for liberal arts to help students build empathy, open mindedness, and knowledge of the foundations of democracy and citizenship. By embracing their public purpose as beacons of free inquiry, colleges and universities can cultivate spaces for deliberation and dialogue on tough topics, cutting through polemics of “conservative” and “liberal” to present opportunities for thoughtful engagement on behalf of the wider community.

Universities as Community Members

Higher education institutions have immense opportunity to build democracy when they take seriously their public role as community members and generators of knowledge. Countering the notion that universities are elite “bubbles,” schools that have made “anchor institution”[i] commitments work to collaborate with the surrounding community around employment, training, local purchasing, infrastructure, and community-identified problems. Place-focused community engagement centers partner with community organizations and members as citizens to connect research, academic service learning, and civic engagement, to maximize collective impact, and to prioritize community needs in university interaction with the community.[ii] Everyone is a citizen of the community, and universities build democracy when civic practices are part of the education offered to students in the curriculum and co-curriculum and when these elements are intentionally integrated into how the university participates as a community member.

The university also centers its role as community member by taking seriously its public position as a center for the creation and sharing of knowledge. In a thriving democracy, individuals rely on the “public store” of knowledge to participate as citizens.[iii] This must include all sorts of knowledge that may be located outside of books and classrooms. Engaging local communities through partnership, experiential education, community-based research, and deliberative dialogue has the potential to break down boundaries around legitimate knowledge, bring the local community into the knowledge building process, and to build student appreciation for the different sorts of knowledge required to act as an effective citizen in a democracy.

Connecting Work and Citizenship

Institutions of higher education have great opportunity to further democracy when they help students connect work and professional identity with citizenship and participation in democracy. A robust understanding of democracy as integrated into the fabric of society indicates that citizenship is a means of living, rather than isolated volunteerism or participation in elections. Work, workplaces, and professional identities are thus sites for participation in democracy. Work serves a public purpose: it is not isolated from society, and it serves as a means for education and construction of human community. When professionals see their work as infused with a public mission and purpose, perhaps driven by a personal sense of vocation, they are practicing citizenship by understanding themselves as agents in an interdependent system. Work places and professions are also importantly potential sites of monumental social change, as evidenced by the long history of the labor movement and the work of professional guilds in the early twentieth century.

In our democracy, individuals most frequently see their work and roles as citizens as separate. Politics are understood to be largely an issue of elections and government, rather than the every-day “choice work” of community deliberation, change-making, and problem solving. Institutions of higher education have an opportunity to change this attitude by intentionally integrating civic education with post-graduation work preparation, and by centering institutional missions focused on education for the health of democracy. By helping students understand the links between the spheres of work and citizenship, universities help students prepare for lives that holistically integrate work of all sorts into the role of a citizen.

 

[i]  The Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Anchor Dashboard. Baltimore: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2013. Accessed July 10, 2018. http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-anchor-dashboard-1/.

[ii] Seattle University Center for Community Engagement. “Place Based Justice Network.” https://www.seattleu.edu/cce/suyi/advance-the-field/place-based-justice-network/. Accessed August 28, 2018.

[iii] Harry C. Boyte. Reinventing Citizenship as Public Work: Citizen-Centered Democracy and the Empowerment Gap. (Dayton: The Kettering Foundation, 2013), 23, accessed July 10, 2018. https://www.kettering.org/catalog/product/reinventing-citizenship-public-work-citizen-centered-democracy-and-empowerment-gap-0.

 

The Concept and Philosophy of Public Work

The Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship has long utilized the concept of public work as an philosophy and approach to our work with individuals and communities. Public work is sustained, visible, serious effort by a diverse mix of ordinary people that creates things of lasting civic or public significance.

The ultimate goal of public work is a flourishing democratic culture, created through a different kind of politics in which citizens take center stage. We believe citizenship is best seen as work, whether paid or unpaid, that has public meaning, lasting public impact, and contributes to the commonwealth. Public work is different than citizenship as charity,  volunteerism, or protest politics. Instead, public work stresses the contribution of individuals in their everyday lives to shaping a common way of life together.

Public work teaches people to work across party lines and partisan differences. Diverse groups have come together to create parks, schools, and libraries, to organize civic holidays or movements for social reform. Institutions such as political parties, religious congregations, unions and commercial associations, settlements, cooperative extensions, schools, and colleges were once “mediating institutions” that connected everyday life to public affairs. They also taught an everyday politics of bargaining, negotiating, and problem solving. People learned to deal with others that they may disagree with on religion or ideology. They gained a sense of stake and ownership in democracy.

Such experiences of everyday political education and action have declined. Many institutions have become service delivery operations in which experts or professionals deliver the goods to clients or customers. Many forms of citizen politics have been reshaped as large-scale mobilizations, in which issues are cast in “good” or “evil” terms, and solutions are often vastly oversimplified. Public work politics aims to renew the civic muscle of mediating institutions and to teach the skills and habits of navigating many-sided public projects.

Public work is also a philosophy, a theoretical framework that draws upon diverse intellectual traditions and aims to have broad explanatory power about the craft of democratic action. Public work understand humans as creative agents, and emphasizes developing human talents, connecting people to each other and to society, and generating a sense of the world as open-ended and co-created by human beings. People are contributors, rather than victims, volunteers, or consumers. People are part of a relational public commons, in which our thriving is mutual and interconnected.

Public work is an evolving framework that speaks to the central challenges of our time. Public work dissolves the distinction between a separate government, a “them” responsible for our problems, and “the people,” innocent and aggrieved. Our government and our democratic way of life become what we make them, and are a reflection of ourselves.

Workshop Offerings

The Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship offers workshops and training sessions on topics related to civic, community, and political engagement for students, community members, staff, and faculty. See upcoming workshops on our events calendar.

 

Basics of Organizing: Public vs. Private, Power, and Self-Interest

Interested in learning about community organizing but don’t know where to start? This workshop is for you. Learn some of the foundational concepts of organizing to get started on your change making journey. Participants in this workshop will gain an understanding of relational power, the difference between public and private relationships, and how self-interest motivates us to act.

Deliberative Dialogue

According to research through the National Issues Forum, Americans are deeply worried that the social fabric may be unraveling due to polarization. A deliberative approach helps to address the problem of polarization. Deliberative practice promotes learning, listening, and understanding across lines of difference, and can lead to collective action. This experience-based training for moderating deliberative dialogues offers the opportunity for participants to engage in a deliberative dialogue, and to develop facilitation skills for moderating deliberative dialogues.

Democracy and the Philosophy of Public Work

In this dynamic workshop, participants will learn about the theory and practice of public work. Participants will leave being able to distinguish between three ways of conceptualizing democracy and what it means to be a citizen, and will understand civic agency and its role in public problem solving.

One-to-One Relational Meetings

If you want to create change, few things are more important as one-to-one relational meetings. One-to-ones are at the heart of community organizing and leadership. These conversations are about establishing a public relationship with someone, and sharing stories as a way to understand their motivations and self interests. They can uncover common values and interests that might lead to collaborative work in support of the change you are trying to create. This mix of personal, sometimes intimate knowledge leading to public action holds unique value. Participants in this workshop will learn and practice one-to-one relationship building for organizing and public work.

Orientation to Community-Based Learning

Through community-based learning, students engage with a local community or organization around co-created goals. These experiences do not take place in a vacuum and have potential for substantial impacts making it important to do thoughtful preparation. Participants will engage in reflection about the skills, capacities and lens they will be bringing to their work, reflection about their pre-existing knowledge and remaining questions about the community they’ll be working in, and learn helpful practices for navigating collaborative work in a new context.

Power Mapping

People interested in promoting positive social change— through public work, civic action, advocacy and other vehicles—need to be aware of who else cares about their cause, and the political and social power structures in play. Social change agents need tools to access resources and to put their ideas into action. Power mapping gives participants a way to think about different kinds of power, and a set of tools to access the power needed to make things happen.

Public Narrative

Using Marshall Ganz’s framework for storytelling as a catalyst for social change, participants in this workshop will learn about the power of the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now, and will begin to develop their own public narratives.

 

Sabo Scholars

Photo of Martin Sabo with students.Yearlong student seminar exploring civic and public life.

The Sabo Scholar program provides a unique opportunity for students to engage in civic life, study the political process, work on public policy, and explore careers in public service. The cohort meets on Thursday nights for academic seminar and civic engagement project work with the cohort.

Current 2nd or 3rd year Augsburg students who have an interest in politics, community, and civic life are encouraged to apply. To be enrolled in the Sabo Scholars course you must plan on studying on-campus for the entire school year (i.e. not going abroad or student teaching for part of the year) and be available for the class period on Thursday nights. Any eligible student is welcome to enroll in the course whether they receive the scholarship or not.

Benefits:

  • Unique opportunities to explore civic engagement and politics as a cohort
  • Earn upper-division credit (4 credits) in the Political Science Department
  • Seminar setting that is small and supportive
  • $2000 scholarship
  • Opportunities to formally develop civic leadership skills

The Sabo Scholars is one of three public leadership scholars programs at Augsburg.

Please check out the Christensen Scholars and the Interfaith Scholars.

Join the Sabo Center for a One-to-One Relational Meetings Workshop

Blog post by Emily Braverman.

 

Do you want to learn significant tools for building bonds with others and making social change?

 

If you want to create change, few things are more important than one-to-one relational meetings. One-to-ones are when two people who intentionally engage in conversation to learn about one another, sharing personal knowledge and values to build a connection that will eventually create public action. These conversations are focused on establishing a public relationship with someone. By sharing stories, participants can understand one another’s motivations and self interests, and find commons areas for collaboration and action.

 

The Sabo Center is hosting two opportunities to learn about one-to-one meetings and to practice this important tool for relationship building, organizing, and public work. Come and join us!

 

Wednesday, October 24, 3:10-5:10 pm, OGC 100

Thursday, October 25, 3:40-5:40 pm, Marshall Room

Poster for One-to-One Relational meetings Workshop

Democracy Augsburg Teach-In: A Personal Look at Our Criminal Justice System

Blog post by Emily Braverman

The Smart Justice Campaign and personal experience with the Minnesota criminal justice system are two topicsPoster for Democracy Augsburg: A Personal Look at the Criminal Justice System event with details that will be discussed, explored, and analyzed during a Democracy Augsburg Teach-In coming up mid-October.

Elizer Darris and Anika Bowie, both organizers with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), will discuss their experiences with the Minnesota criminal justice system and their organizing work through the Smart Justice Campaign.

After successfully getting his life sentence overturned on appeal, Elizer Darris became an activist in prison and an advocate for his fellow inmates. Upon release, he began working in local politics. He currently runs field operations for the Smart Justice Campaign. Based in the Twin Cities, the Smart Justice Campaign is focused on reducing America’s prison population and combating racial inequity across the country. Darris’s main goal is to reduce widespread incarceration.

Anika Bowie is a powerful advocate for people of color. As co-chair of the Minneapolis NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Committee, she connects with government officials, community members, and local youth around reform of the criminal justice system, and is best known for being a group organizer, educator, and leader.

The Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship will be hosting Elizer Darris and Anika Bowie for a Democracy Augsburg Teach-In on October 15, 2018, at 5 p.m. in the Oren Gateway Center, Room 201. Please join us.

What’s at Stake on the Sixth?

A Democracy Augsburg Teach-in

Blog post by Emily Braverman

 

The Midterm Elections.  Poster for What's at Stake on the Sixth? Event.

If you aren’t aware of what the midterm elections are, no worries! Here at the Sabo Center, we broke it down into an easily understandable, short guide:

U.S. presidents serve four-year terms. In between these terms, there is a midterm election. Participation during these elections tend to be lower than general elections, but they are very important!

During the midterm election:

  • Members of the U.S House of Representatives are up for election.
  • Most U.S. states elect their governors.

In addition, the political landscape may change because the president’s party may lose seats in both houses of Congress; this might change which party is in control of the legislature. This, in turn, will impact the president’s ability to pursue an agenda during the second half of his/her term.

Augsburg University’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship welcomes everyone to a presentation by political science professor Andrew Aoki, followed by a discussion about the midterm elections. This will take place on October 19th, at Oren Gateway Center – room 100, between 4:30-5:30 p.m.

The 2018 midterm elections will bring forward many important issues to discuss and vote on. Topics at “What’s at Stake on the Sixth?” might include:

  • Donald Trump’s presidency
  • Immigration
  • Healthcare
  • Marijuana
  • International Affairs

Let’s talk: consequences, redistricting, implications for control of Congress, the presidency, presidential-congressional relations, Supreme Court, and myriad public policies.

If you want to discuss these or other issues and to understand the importance of the midterm elections, we will see you at What’s at Stake on the Sixth.

Learn to Communicate Across the Political Divide with the Better Angels Workshop

A Democracy Augsburg Workshop

Blog post by Emily Braverman  Poster: Better Angels Workshop

“Political ideology” is a term used frequently by political activists, students, and generally by anyone who considers themselves a political enthusiast. What exactly does it mean? Simply put, it is a term describing a person’s political views.

As a myriad of recent examples from American politics display, when diverging political ideologies collide the result is not necessarily respectful or peaceful. Even some of the most qualified politicians have not mastered the skill of respectfully engaging in conversation with those who have a different political ideology.

In response to this challenging reality, The Sabo Center is partnering with Better Angels to offer a workshop where participants will learn effective ways to communicate with others who differ from them politically. Better Angels is a national citizens movement that aims to reduce political polarization in the United States by bringing together liberals and conservatives to understand each other beyond stereotypes, to form red/blue community alliances, to teach practical skills for communicating across political differences, and to make a strong public argument for depolarization.

Come join The Sabo Center for a fish bowl-style discussion in which an equal number of self-declared conservatives and progressives join together in conversation about their differences and how to embrace each other’s side:

Wednesday, October 17, 3:30pm – 5:30pm, Old Main Room 105.

 

Whose Democracy is it Anyway?

Join the Sabo Center and a panel of distinguished guests in exploring the questions: What role do citizens play in our democracy? What role do elected officials play? In a thriving democracy, how do (or should) the two interact?

October 4, 2018

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Hagfors Center, Room 150, Augsburg University

 

Panelists:

Catalina Morales, Lead organizer with ISAIAH and Faith in MN

Harry Boyte, Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy, Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship  

Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison, Minneapolis Ward 5

Irene Fernando, Candidate for Hennepin County Commissioner – District 2