From Teaching Democratic Thinking to Developing Democratic Civic Identity
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Using theory and research from the cognitive and social sciences as well as the literature of service-learning and community-campus engagement, we critically examine an over-emphasis on democratic thinking as the primary construct of interest in American higher education’s efforts to prepare young people for meaningful participation in democracy. We propose developing democratic civic identity as a more appropriate superordinate goal than teaching democratic thinking. We examine relationships between and among cognition, behavior, and attitudes generally and within the context of democratically-engaged community-campus partnerships and democratic critical reflection as a basis for developing and refining persons as civic agents in a diverse democracy. We conclude with implications of the analysis for service-learning—a pedagogy that, when designed and implemented accordingly, provides a uniquely powerful means to cultivate democratic civic identity.