The Center for Democracy and Civic Life in News and Publications



  • “Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic names UMBC’s Rehman Liaqat, human rights advocate, a 2022-23 Civic Fellow” (UMBC News, 2022). “[…] [David] Hoffman and [Romy] Hübler sat with [Liaqat] as he shared his passionate ideas. ‘They never deterred me,’ says Liaqat. Instead, they walked him through the process of seeing different points of view and the intentionality of the decision of university leadership to invest in a broad range of sports rather than putting significant funds toward a football team. This process informed his work in student and community organizations for the rest of his time at UMBC.”
  • “Exploring Pathways to Social Change” (UMBC Magazine, 2022, quoting Faith Davis). “The ASB program at UMBC is unique because the goal is not to find something to fill your spring break but to use your spring break as an introduction to how meaningful change is made in Baltimore City.”
  • “Maryland Political Map Ruling Sparks Conversations about Partisanship” (The Retriever, 2022). “‘[There is danger that people will lose faith in] the prospect that they will be treated fairly, that they will have an equal voice, that their elected leaders will focus on their interests and make their lives better,’ said [David] Hoffman. ‘So, anything that undermines people’s confidence in the fairness of the system is problematic.’”
  • “Stories Matter: My Alternative Spring Break 2022” (The Retriever, 2022, written by ASB 2022 participant Glynne Christine del Rosario.) “When people think of justice as working for a larger sense of belonging, giving suppressed stories a space to be told, we are able to create necessary change, to show how wellness for all members of a community, of a city, matters.”
  • “Building Community through Art in Baltimore and at UMBC” (The Retriever, 2022). ‘As students, it can be hard to hear that [college] isn’t ‘the real world’ and we are just passing through,’ said [Tess] McRae. ‘But we are literally here, and there are stories everywhere and people who want to matter and belong. […] Your contribution can help to shape our community.’”
  • “UMBC’s Farah Helal, Longtime Student Advocate, is Named USM Student Regent” (UMBCNews, 2022). “As associate director and director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Life, [Romy Hübler and David Hoffman] have provided Helal with guidance in her civic engagement work on and off campus.”
  • “Academic Innovation and Transformation Monthly Update: January 2022” (American Association of State Colleges and Universities, 2022). “Our campuses must model for a society in turmoil what respectful disagreement, civil debate, and peaceful protest can look like. There are many AASCU members who are modeling the way. … The University of Maryland Baltimore County through its Center for Democracy and Civic Life fosters healthy civic relationships in the campus and community.”




  • “Then & Now: Electoral College” (UMBC Magazine pg. 62, 2020). “UMBC has since 2004 created a much more exciting and communal way to spend the evening [of Election Day]—an Election Night Extravaganza, to be precise—filling large sections of The Commons with balloons, streamers, and activities to celebrate democratic engagement. Thanks to COVID-19, this year’s celebration was reenvisioned via the online chat platform Discord, complete with chat rooms to match the communities found in the #skylight-room, #sports-zone, and other physical spaces everyone was missing this semester.”
  • “Students Reflect on UMBC’s Top-Ten Finish in National Democracy Challenge and Post-Election Community Conversations” (UMBCNews, 2020). “‘These rankings speak to what people already know: UMBC is a national model for community engagement,’ says President Freeman A. Hrabowski. ‘We’re proud of the work being done through our Center for Democracy and Civic Life, and we are grateful to all of our community members who took the pledge to vote in the 2020 election.’”
  • “The Center for Democracy and Civic Life Urges Students to Cast Their Whole Vote” (The Retriever, 2020, quoting David Hoffman). “Build the community that you want to live in, talk to people in a way that builds strength over the long term. … Build coalitions around a common goal, not necessarily a common enemy: What is the society that we all want to be a part of?”
  • “Higher Education Should Lead the Efforts to Reverse Structural Racism” (The Atlantic, 2020). “A final imperative for universities is to do more to encourage our students of all backgrounds in the work of civic engagement and voting. … To foster civic action, [UMBC has] established a Center for Democracy and Civic Life, which provides programs and initiatives for students to establish civic purpose and find agency through actions that they take on campus or in the community.”
  • “Retrievers Focus on Community to Prepare for a Fall Semester Unlike Any Before” (UMBCNews, 2020). “Staff and students in the Center for Democracy and Civic Life (CDCL) have met regularly throughout the summer to plan meaningful events that will be held online during the fall. These include events related to the 2020 election and online Change Makers Dinners that will create space for community conversations among students and local leaders.”
  • “Community Minded” (UMBC Magazine pg. 8, 2020). “BreakingGround is another long-standing UMBC community engagement initiative with significant impacts, both on and off-campus, including environmental justice initiatives and work to improve Baltimore City’s aging water infrastructure. The work of BreakingGround now fits within UMBC’s Center for Democracy and Civic Life, launched in 2018.”
  • “Stories are Everything” (UMBC Magazine pg. 46, 2020, illustrated by Tess McRae). “In grade school, we learn about the importance of voting. At UMBC, we learn that civic life can really mean much more. It is a mindset, strengthened by places and relationships, to empower change at big and small levels. And the Civic Courage Journaling Project, launched last year by UMBC’s Center for Democracy and Civic Life, is helping students imagine exactly what that might mean on an individual basis.” In “There’s No Such Thing as Small Politics.”
  • “The Carnegie Foundation Honors UMBC as a Leading Community-Engaged Institution” (UMBCNews, 2020). “BreakingGround is one long-standing UMBC community engagement initiative with significant impacts, both on and off-campus. … Examples of projects funded by BreakingGround include environmental justice initiatives and work to improve Baltimore City’s aging water infrastructure. The work of BreakingGround now fits within UMBC’s Center for Democracy and Civic Life.”




  • “Engagement Centers” (UMBC Magazine pg. 7, 2018, quoting David Hoffman). “We can develop the knowledge, skills, and resourcefulness to work across differences and address challenges together, and to build thriving civic communities. UMBC is the perfect setting for that kind of learning, with so many people and programs already contributing to a vibrant civic culture.”
  • “All Voices Welcome: Conversations We Avoid Over Thanksgiving Dinner” (UMBC Magazine pg. 28, 2018). Describes the Dinner With Friends and Coffee and Conversation programs on which the Center collaborated with UMBC’s Student Government Association. In “Moments of Truth.”
  • “The Great Leap Forward” (The Retriever, 2018). “Studies and other pieces of evidence suggest that UMBC is doing well and is improving as a university. The first piece of evidence is UMBC’s recently created Center for Democracy and Civic Life.”
  • “Staff Ed: Civic Participation Means Voting — And So Much More” (The Retriever, 2018). “The Center for Democracy and Civic Life is founded on the idea of helping students fully embrace that truth, ‘that sense of being a producer of UMBC and not just a consumer of it,’ [David] Hoffman explains. ‘And if you’re experiencing that every day, I think voting is something that you do very naturally rather than having to be persuaded.’ “
  • “UMBC Launches Center for Democracy and Civic Life at a Critical National Moment” (UMBC News, 2018, quoting Romy Hübler). “Our work builds from the idea that civic life is everywhere: not just in elections or community service opportunities, but in our everyday interactions in nearly every space in which we live and work.”
  • “Voting Does Not Make Democracy” (by Mariko Silver, Forbes, 2018). “Creating a college environment that is rich with practical democratic experiences is crucial to achieving the personal and social ends of a more robust democracy. This approach can be woven into the fabric of the college experience, from debate in the classroom to the physical design of dormitories.”
  • Awakening Democracy through Public Work: Pedagogies of Empowerment (by Harry C. Boyte, 2018, citing research by David Hoffman and describing UMBC as an institution that supports students as “artisans of possibility”). “One team of Jewish and Muslim students worked with the administration to bring kosher and halal options to the campus cafeteria. Others redesigned spaces to make them more public, reduced the school’s greenhouse gas emissions, encouraged healthy lifestyles, and sought to boost campus spirit.”
  • “Why Should College Students – or Anyone Else – Bother Voting?” (coauthored by David Hoffman and Romy Hübler; Forbes, 2018). “Voting is a demonstration of hope and faith that a better collective future is possible. It affirms the dream of a society governed wisely and justly by its members, without asserting that we live in such a society yet.”
  • “Non-Partisan Politics Pervade New SGA Event” (The Retriever, 2018, quoting Romy Hübler). “Oftentimes we look at UMBC as an institution — it’s a community. The media, higher education … they’ve all been telling undergrads that they need to be more knowledgeable when it comes to civic life and voting. Well, we all need to be more knowledgeable.”