Regents approve civics literacy initiative

Board approves motions encouraging new certificate, online effort, more

The CU Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a slate of motions aimed at expanding civics education across the CU system.

The work was initiated in 2017 by Regent John Carson, R-Highlands Ranch, and brought to the board by its University Affairs Committee. During its Wednesday meeting at CU South Denver in Lone Tree, the board voted on four motions, each of which was passed, though none unanimously.

The resolutions reflected input from the Faculty Council, which requested that the regents not create additional barriers to student admission or graduation, that the wishes of the individual campuses be respected and that the curriculum be determined by faculty.

“I feel like we’ve reached a mutual agreement that this is an area we should all focus on,” said Carson, whose presentation included background calling for improved civics literacy among Americans. “Nothing today is coming in the form of a mandate.”

The motions the regents approved call for the following:

  • That faculty be encouraged to launch a civics-focused certificate, with a fall 2019 announcement followed by courses beginning in 2020. (Passed 8-1, with Regent Linda Shoemaker, D-Boulder, opposing.)
  • That the Regents Online Resolution already in place be amended to recommend that one of the courses focused on concurrent enrollment be a civics course, available in 2020 for CU and high school students in Colorado. (Passed 6-3, with Regents Shoemaker, Irene Griego, D-Lakewood, and Lesley Smith, D-Boulder, opposing.)
  • That administration and faculty work to conduct a survey of a sampling of the incoming class of 2019 freshmen to determine a base level of civics knowledge among Colorado high school graduates. (Passed 5-4, with Regents Shoemaker, Griego, Smith and Jack Kroll, D-Denver, opposing.)
  • That the campuses be challenged to propose options beyond certificates for enhancing civics education, with resource estimates included. (Passed 6-3, with Regents Griego, Shoemaker and Smith opposing.)

In comments explaining their no votes, while supporting the need for civics literacy, some regents expressed concern over establishing a brief timeline for any required work to be completed by faculty and administration, as well as the possibility that faculty may not have had sufficient time to provide full input. Carson said there will be time for the specifics of the process to be worked on by the University Affairs Committee, with faculty and administration, at upcoming meetings.