Last week, Chicago had the privilege of welcoming Troy Duster back to his hometown and hearing the grandson of Ida B. Wells discuss how engaged learning offers a pathway to civic engagement.
Duster is a Chancellor’s Professor at the Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkley and an Emeritus Silver Professor of Sociology at New York University. His talk at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)—“ ‘The Arc That Bends Toward Justice’ Requires an Accelerator: Engaged Learning as the Bridge to Civic Engagement”—was well attended by University scholars, students, and community members alike and encouraged the audience to help establish pockets of insurgency within the university that would allow students to experience engaged learning through partnerships in the community, which would ultimately support habits of civic engagement; the university with its wealth of resources, according to Duster, must act as the initiators of civic engagement within the community. The event was hosted by UIC Great Cities Institute in partnership with affiliates on campus.
The Chicago Reporter also had an opportunity to have a conversation with Duster, inquiring after the nature of civic engagement, what the current level of civic engagement has to say about the struggle for justice, and what Duster sees as the future of African American political empowerment in Chicago. An edited transcript of the interview can be found here.
Excerpted from the interview:
“I’m interested in civic engagement in terms of education, so I mean there are many forms of civic engagement which I would very much like to see occur, but I want to connect what I call engaged learning with civic engagement. So it’s sort of like unleashing the energy of thousands of students and putting them at the service of civic engagement . . . What interests me about the civic engagement part is that it’s drawn into some kind of connective tissue with students learning about their society.”