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The Center for Democracy and Civic Life in News and Publications

  • “Changing University Culture” (UMBC Magazine pg. 34, 2021, quoting Romy Hübler). “We are constantly making and co-creating UMBC. Students are not just customers floating through to get a degree, but we all have responsibility for our own community. And if we want to co-create our space, there are skills, knowledge, and dispositions that we need that are pretty much the same as what we need when we work with communities elsewhere.” In “Mutual Flourishing.”
  • “Graduating Retrievers Find Joy and Career Inspiration in Supporting K-12 Students and Families” (UMBCNews, 2021). “‘I was able to access excellent research opportunities in the humanities [including the PLACE Project] that I never thought would be available at the undergraduate level,’ says [Emily] Paul.”
  • “UMBC Together: Graduating Retrievers Reflect on Building Community Through Conversations” (UMBCNews, 2021). “[David] Hoffman shares that [Meghan] Lynch, [Brandon] Liu, and [Tirzah] Khan all ‘embody the idea that we can bring our whole, unique selves to the work of shaping our communities.’ He says, ‘Their contributions have helped make UMBC even more deeply and visibly what it has been all along: caring, inclusive, and engaged.’”
  • “UMBC’s Faith Davis is Named a Newman Civic Fellow for Work on Healthcare, Food, and Housing Insecurity” (UMBCNews, 2021). “Davis’s work in ASB [Alternative Spring Break] increased her awareness of the challenges that people experiencing homelessness face in accessing preventative healthcare and basic information about chronic health issues.”
  • “UMBC’s Jordan Troutman to Continue Algorithmic Fairness Research as Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford” (UMBCNews, 2021). “Roles in SGA and participating in UMBC’s STRiVE student leadership retreat and Alternative Spring Break ‘helped me understand my own sense of agency and my ability to make an impact,’ Troutman says. He realized that solving massive, intimidating problems often starts with a single person, and says, ‘Learning that has just made me believe that I literally could do anything.’”
  • “Center for Democracy and Civic Life Debuts Retriever Tales Podcast” (The Retriever, 2021). “Driving the podcast is the Civic Life Maxim that ‘stories are everything.’ ‘They have the potential to connect the UMBC community, spark inner reflection and create a sense of belonging,’ continued [Romy] Hübler. … ‘There are a lot of good stories that not a lot of people have heard,’ said [David] Hoffman. ‘We want to find and tell them, to create a culture of sharing stories.’”
  • “Unsurprised but Appalled: UMBC’s Community Reacts to the Storming of The Capitol” (The Retriever, 2021). “‘UMBC is at the forefront of a national movement in higher education that aspires to build a thriving democracy through civic learning focused on critical thinking, imagination, courage, storytelling, and coalition-building strategies,’ said [David] Hoffman. ‘Conversations like this week’s Together Beyond program are sending ripples well beyond UMBC. We need more of them.’”
  • “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.”
  • “Baltimore County Universities Ramp Up Voter Registration Efforts” (The Baltimore Sun, 2019, quoting David Hoffman). “We’ve done really well at getting people into conversation with each other … in a context where they can make a difference.”
  • “UMBC Faculty Member Heads National Collegiate Democracy Movement” (The Retriever, 2019). “While [David] Hoffman is proud of the Center’s work that catapulted him to this new position, he noted that it was built on a very strong foundation: ‘[The Center’s] ideas have become highly influential in the network because of the work of a lot of people at UMBC.’”
  • “UMBC’s Top 10 Highlights of 2018” (UMBCNews, 2019). “The center will help students develop knowledge, skills, and approaches for deep and effective community work, in collaboration with on- and off-campus partners.”
  • “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.”