Zocalo Public Square, a non-profit website specializing in humanities journalism, recently invited scholars to describe the ideal 21st century university. David Hoffman, assistant director of student life for civic agency, responded with an article emphasizing the need for universities to become spaces for discourse and action in order to remain relevant in society.
In the article, Hoffman discussed UMBC’s response to the Baltimore protests in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, noting that the campus teach-in focused on sharing knowledge to support construction action in a way that respected everyone’s stories and abilities to contribute. “That spirit of mutual respect and creativity belies the dichotomies common to conventional thinking about higher education: distinctions between teacher and learner, scholar and citizen, research and action, university and community,” he wrote.
Hoffman also mentioned the national push for civic engagement through networks such as Imagining America. UMBC faculty, staff and students have participated in Imagining America’s work in the past through BreakingGround and our campus will host Imagining America’s 2015 National Conference in October.