Citizen Alum Announces Task Force on Intergenerational Learning for College Students

Task Force Members Click Here for Work Site

10 April 2014

Citizen Alum Announces Task Force on Intergenerational Learning for College Students

Danielle Hinrichs, Chair

Julie Ellison, Director, Citizen Alum

Citizen Alum announces a new Task Force on Intergenerational Learning for College Students (ILCS).  ICLS will build community of practice dedicated to undergraduate learning through educational partnerships with publicly active alumni—those who are deeply engaged in the places where they live and work. The Task Force will focus on building relationships between different academic generations, or cohorts, of students and graduates.

Danielle Hinrichs, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Composition at Metropolitan State University, Minneapolis, will chair the Task Force. Working with colleague Jodi Bantley of Metropolitan State’s Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship, Professor Hinrichs has developed and piloted an innovative Citizen Alum curricular module. Several other Citizen Alum campuses are adapting this module, which is now a regular feature of Professor Hinrichs’ research writing class and the focus of her new research.

The goal of the Task Force is to share useful ways to connect current students and civically engaged alumni in academic settings, with an emphasis on courses, curricula, and programs that engage both ‘gap’ and ‘situated’ alums. We will build a knowledge base on curricular and co- curricular innovations in diverse institutional settings: community colleges, four-year residential liberal arts, comprehensive, and research-intensive institutions. This will incorporate materials on intergenerational programs that serve the “new majority” students—those who, as David Scobey notes, are twenty-five or older, attend community colleges, enroll part-time, work full-time, and/or have children.

Over the next two years (January 2014 through December 2016), we aim to produce a web-based resource that provides models of and tools for intergenerational undergraduate learning. The site will be a destination for individuals and organizations committed to active citizenship as a core purpose of higher education. It will include comment and blog components to encourage feedback and dialogue. The Task Force will be a clearinghouse for pertinent research and may propose multi-campus research or assessment projects. Finally, the team will conduct workshops at allied national and regional conferences and institutes, designed to sustain current Citizen Alum teams and to attract and inform new ones.

Task Force members include faculty and staff leaders who have a particular commitment to integrating intergenerational learning into the curriculum. They represent colleges, universities, and programs from across the national Citizen Alum network. Several Task Force members have participated in the Kettering Foundation’s Civically Engaged Alumni, Beyond Service Learning, and Deliberative Democracy research exchanges.

For more information about the ILCS Task Force, contact Danielle Hinrichs (


About Citizen Alum

Citizen Alum is a multi-campus effort to reframe the college-to-life transition of current students who identify as “citizen students” by connecting them to “citizen alums.”  Launched at a January

10 2012 White House meeting, “For Democracy’s Future—Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission,” Citizen Alum began with the goal of working with graduates who chafe at the constraints of available alumni roles. In the spirit of A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future (2012), released at that White House event, Citizen Alum extended an invitation to alumni to become allies and partners in higher education’s public mission.

Campuses can make civic learning more robust through participatory relationships with alumni and, by extension, with the places in which those graduates live and work. They can act out of a commitment to crafting more diverse and publicly powerful identities for alumni as “doers, not just donors.” Students can, in the words of Mark Wilson, of Auburn University’s Living Democracy program, “be presented with positive experiences of communities’ civic agency as well as their own.”

Citizen Alum campus teams bring together faculty, community engagement professionals, alumni relations and development staff, and alumni themselves. The teams break down institutional silos and challenge existing scripts for “graduateness.” Citizen Alum teams are enabling former students to collaborate with departments and programs at their college or university. These alumni engage with current students, especially students who are seeking pathways to democratic professionalism (Dzur). Through these encounters, alumni are contributing to civic learning in specific fields. They are also building partnerships that strengthen their own place-based or issue-oriented commitments.

For more information about Citizen Alum, contact Julie Ellison (