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A commitment to good citizenship

November 30, 2011
By Robin Shaffer Lilienthal , Times-Republican

Lately it seems like citizenship is a headline-making, hot-button topic all across the country. Regardless of your country of birth or immigration status, Marshalltown Community College has made a commitment to developing COMMUNITY citizens by emphasizing "good citizenship" as one of our five Common Learning Objects.

In other words, among the College's big outcomes of acquiring knowledge, critical thinking, communication, and information literacy (regardless of whether they are a welding major or nursing major or pre-education major and regardless of whether they are an Iowa native, or from Chicago or Kansas, or from South Korea or Brazil) we also want all students to "recognize and understand good citizenship by: 1) demonstrating life skills such as self-awareness, interpersonal skills, self-advocacy, time management, fiscal responsibility, teamwork, and continuous quality improvement; 2) understanding expectations, obligations, and processes of global citizenship; 3) making ethical decisions and moral choices; and 4) recognizing the dignity and worth of each individual and understanding various cultures and their interrelationships.

So, I thought I would share a few of the ways we are accomplishing this objective.

First, we practice citizenship by giving back to our community. Each week our students assist a variety of community agencies: the United Way Day of Caring, Central Iowa RSVP Winter Weatherization project, and House of Compassion are just a few examples.

Second, we study citizenship. Students in our English and broadcast technology departments are producing a video project on civility and many of our students learned about veterans' issues when they participated in the Combat Paper Project hosted by our art department.

Third, we interact through citizenship. Our students learn about diverse U.S. and international cultures through interpersonal relationships with our Youth for Understanding exchange students, our Multicultural Club activities, and our 96 currently enrolled international students.

Fourth, we integrate citizenship. Due to our committed faculty, staff, and students' commitment to fully integrate good citizenship into our campus culture, we have been selected to participate as one of four pilot colleges across the U.S. to begin the Students as Stewards: Compact for the Common Good project. We truly want our students to graduate from MCC with a thorough recognition and understanding of their roles as good community citizens, and we know that these initiatives are helping us accomplish this important objective.

Oh, by the way, if you want to enroll in a college course or two that will help you gain a better appreciation of good citizenship, our registration is open for the spring semester; classes begin Jan. 9.


Dr. Robin Shaffer Lilienthal is Provost of Marshalltown Community College, which is operated by Iowa Valley Community College District.



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