With the national conversation about college emphasizing timely degree completion and readiness for employment, how can community college educators prepare our students to tackle the big questions they currently experience and will further confront in the complex, changing environment of our interconnected global future? A reductionist emphasis on employment readiness may limit students' ability to recognize, understand, and use the levers of social and political change and power. Will our graduates be like bells without clappers—voiceless and lacking resonance? How will this voicelessness affect their lives, their liberty, and their pursuit of happiness?
In a project funded by the Teagle Foundation, housed at the Community College National Center for Community Engagement (CCNCCE), and led by Kapi'olani Community College, faculty at six community college campuses—Kingsborough Community College and Queensborough Community College (New York), Raritan Valley Community College (New Jersey), Delgado Community College (Louisiana), Mesa Community College (Arizona), and Kapi'olani Community College (Hawai'i)—are actively engaged with questions like these. Through this project, titled Student Learning for Civic Capacity: Stimulating Moral, Ethical, and Civic Engagement for Learning that Lasts, faculty are implementing pedagogical, curricular, cocurricular, extracurricular, and assessment innovations across developmental, liberal arts, and career and technical education programs. These innovations address a single big question: How do we build our commitment to civic and moral responsibility for diverse, equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities?