Community colleges, as local institutions, are an essential part of the American landscape of higher education, playing key roles to democratize it and to provide more people access to upward mobility. At the
same time, community colleges are especially well positioned to provide benefits for the larger communities in which they are located in ways that actively engage students and deepen their educational experiences. Yet with decreasing budgets and in some cases decreasing enrollments, we are seeing institutional priorities being scaled back to only those that would appear most obvious in their ability to advance institutional effectiveness and student success. In this context, support for civic engagement programs has languished and, in some instances, disappeared altogether.
This book presents a set of contemporary case studies examining how civic engagement and learning strategies at community colleges can be leveraged to advance institutional effectiveness, college completion, and student success. The chapters provide evidence of strategies and innovative ways that community colleges have extended their efforts to institutionalize civic learning and democratic engagement and the impact of those efforts. Collectively, the case studies suggest that to ensure civic engagement and democratic learning for all community college students, community college leaders should intentionally align and infuse civic engagement and democratic learning with their institutional priorities, making their connections apparent and measurable. This book provides evidence that there are a variety of effective strategies to educate community college students for democracy while advancing student and institutional success.