“In essence, social studies promote knowledge of and involvement in civic affairs. And because civic issues such as health care, crime, and foreign policy are multidisciplinary in nature, understanding these issues and developing resolutions to them require multidisciplinary education. These characteristics are the key defining aspects of social studies.” (NCSS Bulletin 89, 1994: vii)
The above quote might serve well the idea of a Civitas Society. If Interim President Magrath has it right that a “land-grant University in the 21st century must be of use and value to our society and serve students of today and tomorrow and not yesterday” then we must develop innovative ways to connect with and develop enduring relations with our social studies students.
The Civitas Society aims to serve the K-16 social studies educators in a way that would formulate a consciousness of a greater community of learners as well as directly impact, through engagement of shared values, our community, university, state, and nation. Through current and future technology this community of social studies educators could provide a rich source to provide insight and analysis of what has been effective and productive in terms of our teacher preparation program. Further, this interconnectivity will ultimately lead to a greater respect and appreciation for the department of curriculum and instruction/literacy as well as the college of Human Resources and Education, as well as the West Virginia University.
The Civitas Society aims to serve as a national model to better serve the preservice and early career social studies educator. Developing a Civitas Society interactive web platform might engage a greater community to share lesson plans, creative curriculum designs, and research articles, examples of best teaching practices and discussion of current issues. A critical part of this model would be to develop an alumni network of social studies educators.
The Civitas Society is an integral part of the Center for Democratic Citizenship Education. To better serve the society there needs to be an over-arching body of support and encouragement. The CDCE would provide this support by providing a home base, administrative support, financial assistance, as well as a source of pride that would be reflected by anticipated involvement in the Center’s service-based learning activities.
The benefits to WVU through the Civitas Society would include, but not be limited to:
- Building a Social Studies Educator alumni base
- Teachers as Scholars
- National recognition
- Engagement Opportunities
- Possible increase in student recruitment (undergraduate and graduate)
- Promoting the central mission of serving the students in the 21st century and beyond
- Upgrading the professionalism of preservice social studies educators
- Providing a service to the Center for Democratic Education and Citizenship
- Development of communication and collaboration with other colleges:
- Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Business and Economics
- Reed College of Media
- WVU Institute of Technology
- College of Law
- University Libraries