Renewing Democracy in Communities & Schools

INVST Instructor Elaina Verveer developed Renewing Democracy in Communities and Schools during the 2009-2010 academic year to better support PA coaches and add an academic dimension to the program. A year-long practicum course, Renewing Democracy in Communities and Schools advances the mission of IECE, INVST, and the Education Minor within the School of Education, as it invites CU students to apply their learning to the public realm and develop a set of skills that will allow them to act and lead effectively in the world.

INVS/EDUC 2919 students are required to meet on campus weekly for a 90 minute seminar, as well as off campus at a local elementary or high school for 60 minutes once a week. During the weekly seminar, students are invited to consider the interplay between democracy, education, and social change, and specifically reflect on the responsibility society and schools have to promote democracy and equality. In addition to exploring empowering or critical democratic theory, students are introduced to adolescent and childhood development, youth-focused civic engagement, multiculturalism, classroom management, and facilitation techniques during the fall semester. During the spring semester, students have an opportunity to further evaluate educational inequalities and trends, including current standards-based reform movements, open enrollment, and school privatization. The course has been approved for the Education Minor as well as meets the Human Diversity Core requirement. In addition, INVS/EDUC 2919 students may receive a $1,175 AmeriCorps Education Award in exchange for their participation in two semesters of the course.

Discussing her involvement in the course and corresponding PA practicum, one student shared, "I can't believe I did not find this class until my senior year. It has opened my eyes to the realities of the public education system and the importance of service learning in both K-12 and college classrooms. I plan to get my MA in Education and continue to apply all of the great theory and skills that I obtained in PA in my future classrooms."

Another student shared, "I have taken some pretty amazing classes at CU, but they pale in comparison to 2919. Before 2919, I didn't know what I wanted to do after I graduated. I am now serving as a full-time AmeriCorps in Chicago public schools, and couldn't be happier."