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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)November 18, 2003

(Mahwah) – Ramapo College of New Jersey has been selected to participate in the American Democracy Project (ADC). The project grows out of concern about decreasing rates of participation in the civic life of America in voting, advocacy, volunteerism in grassroots associations and in other forms of civic engagement. It is a cooperative project of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), The New York Times, and AASCU member institutions.

Jennefer Mazza, Ph.D., dean of American and International Studies, is the chief academic officer representing Ramapo College in the ADC. Her charge is to establish civic engagement as a campus priority, creating an active faculty group to design and carry out local projects and programs. I asked to take this project on,” she says. It represents a long-term interest of mine. I’ve been consumed with the thought of how to get my students more involved in the political world.”

Using the definition proposed by Thomas Ehrlich in Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, civic engagement is working to make a difference in the civic life of a community and developing the knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference.

A yearlong conversation, the first part of the project, allows participants to hold discussion forums and gather information. Mazza has assembled a committee of Ramapo colleagues to work with her on the ADC. The College does so much already through service learning, the Literacy Project, internships, voter registration drives conducted by clubs and the Oxfam Hunger program,” she says. We need to take an inventory of what’s in place that meets the goals of the project.

The challenge,” she adds, is for us to find something new to do; a project that will be large enough in scope to conduct for several consecutive years.” The professor plans to engage her students in a Political Science Seminar” course she will teach next spring. This advanced course in democratic theory will marshal students into examining the concept of civic engagement.”

The ADC rests on the core belief that civic engagement is critical for the preservation and vitality of American democracy. The AASCU notes that the loss of a sense of community, and the commitment to act in support of it, reduces the effectiveness to accomplish collective goals.

The American Democracy Project offers exciting opportunities for our students and faculty,” says William Sanborn Pfeiffer, Ph.D., provost/ vice president for academic affairs. We are fully committed to supporting this project. Our participation in the ADC is one more example of Ramapo’s continuing interest in experiential education.”

Participating are 165 AASCU member campuses. After the yearlong conversation, the focus will shift to implementation of a variety of civic engagement projects on each of the campuses, and a process of dissemination of the best practices.


Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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