Project on Civic Responsibility
Revitalizing Civic Commitment
Another project of the Institute involves collaboration with the Institute for Ethics at Dartmouth College in an endeavor that was initially supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This project, which is entitled Reexamining the Foundations of Civic Responsibility, is perhaps most succinctly described by quoting the summary from the NEH proposal:
“There is increasingly widespread evidence that social trust and civic engagement are declining in American society. The reasons for this decline are complex, but they are manifested on the part of citizens in a growing escape into private pursuits and away from a vital concern for common well-being. Many observers argue that we need a revitalized sense of civic commitment. As this proposal explains, however, the foundations on which civic responsibility is grounded are themselves shifting, as they encounter the paradoxes of traditional liberal democratic values, as well as a transformation in the basic ways in which citizenship is conceived in contemporary society. The analysis of these issues and a reconsideration of the intellectual and moral dimensions of civic life require an increasingly urgent national dialogue. It is a dialogue that essentially addresses the public philosophy of democratic life. Faculty can and in numerous instances have assumed a key role in this dialogue. The higher education community in general, however, has done little to advance this endeavor in any organized fashion or to draw on its implications for educating students in what has been referred to as “civic intelligence.”
Through the collaborative efforts of the Institute for Ethics in Public Life at SUNY Plattsburgh and the Institute for Applied Ethics at Dartmouth College, participating faculty, acting as a community of inquiry, will address these issues. The project is intended to help advance a nascent, national dialogue to re-examine and re-formulate our society’s conceptualizations of civic responsibility. The project will also explore the curricular implications of this dialogue for the higher education community. The results of this work will be broadly promulgated to scholars throughout the nation through the creation of a web site and presentations and publications to relevant professional organizations.”
Six faculty members from Plattsburgh have been working on this project with a team of five members of the Dartmouth College faculty, alternating our meetings between Plattsburgh and Dartmouth. The long-term intention of this project is that the fruits of our explorations will find their way into formal discourse with students through curriculum and course development.