Maryland colleges have a role in civics instruction

As chancellor of the University System of Maryland, I want to applaud W. Blaine Brewer’s recent commentary, “We have a civic duty to teach civics” (Aug. 2). And while I concur with the call for the K-12 community to develop a curriculum that stresses civics, I also want to highlight the vital role that higher education — especially public higher education — must play in this movement.

The USM Board of Regents recently established a civic education workgroup to make recommendations for systemwide initiatives to help our students graduate as more active and effective citizens. The group’s three-part mission is focused on civic education, civic engagement and civic responsibility.

By integrating civic education as a general education outcome, USM institutions can cultivate an informed, knowledgeable citizenry that understands the origins, importance and fragility of democracy. By supporting civic engagement, we can inspire active connections and a commitment to the civic life of our communities. By fostering civic responsibility, an idea first recorded by the ancient Romans and embedded in our Constitution, we can support an understanding of our obligation to the whole of society.

Together, these concepts represent attributes that will help make our students the thoughtful, well-rounded citizens — and future leaders — our society needs.

USM campuses have, of course, long been committed to all these areas and in many cases our institutions are seen as national models of civic engagement and responsibility. By exploring a coordinated, systemwide approach, we are hoping to make these mutual goals part and parcel of every aspect of campus life across the USM, positioning the students we serve for a more meaningful, more impactful future.

Robert L. Caret, Adelphi

The writer is chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

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