Goal #3: Making a Difference in the World – Local, State, National, and Global

**The below information is from the 2006-2016 UIS Strategic Plan. For information on the current 2018-2028 Strategic Compass, visit https://www.uis.edu/strategiccompass/ **

With its location in the state capital, UIS has always had a special emphasis on public affairs, citizen engagement, and effecting societal change.

Our third goal echoes and updates those traditions. Making a Difference in the World is conceptualized as a series of activities related to reflection, dialogue, and action on public policy and civic culture, resulting in engagement with the world outside of the university. The focus includes local, state, national, and global concerns. All undergraduates will participate in engagement or applied study activities, and graduate students will continue to have numerous opportunities for hands-on learning and research. The campus will continue to build on its solid record of accomplishment in public affairs, applied research, and training activities – paying special attention to public policy and the civic culture.

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni from every part of UIS engage in activities that make a difference in the world. Each individual and discipline provides a unique contribution: education, business, professional programs, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In other words, Making a Difference in the World is a shared responsibility.

Whereas the goal of Enriching Individual Lives focuses on the way a UIS education will lead to the growth of the individual, the goal of Making a Difference in the World points to the way that UIS looks outward toward the betterment of society. The challenge is to build on our traditions of engagement in ways that resonate with and reinforce what we are becoming while retaining the strengths and the values that have served the university so well.

The adoption of the Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) component of our new general education curriculum addresses part of this challenge through coursework in categories such as Comparative Societies, Global Awareness, and U.S. Communities, as well as experiential learning in the Engagement Experience. One of the signature qualities of UIS graduates will be an ability to engage a world in which the distance between local and global communities grows continuously smaller.

UIS will meet the second part of the challenge of engagement by continuing and expanding our commitment to making a difference in the world through a broad range of activities that result in reflection, dialogue, and action on public policy and civic culture.

Public Policy – How a society responds to issues such as access to higher education, content of the high school curriculum, gender or racial tolerance, care of the elderly, environmental responsibility, political corruption, or transparency and access to the financial transactions of corporations is shaped by the formulation of public policies and the implementation of those policies.

Civic Culture – The responses of society to issues such as these also shape civic culture in terms of the attitudes, opinions, and beliefs of citizens about issues and the impact of social institutions on the behavior of individuals. Civic culture exists at the intersection of the social, economic, governmental, religious, and private spheres of society.


Strategic Thrust #1: Reflection

Making a Difference in the World will be achieved through REFLECTION on public policy, civic culture, and engagement. Reflection is a learning process of fostering awareness and understanding of issues, mastering skills, and acquiring the experiences that facilitate effective engagement. We will foster the awareness and understanding necessary for action on public policy and civic culture. Students and faculty will be the ones primarily involved in the development of and participation in reflection activities.

Action Step #1: Implement the ECCE portion of undergraduate general education curriculum.

Action Step #2: Develop new courses that have public policy, civic culture, and engagement themes.

Action Step #3: Increase support for sabbaticals and faculty research, joint appointments, and non-instructional assignments.

Performance Indicators for strategic thrust #1:

  • Number of courses taught
  • Number of experiential learning placements – graduate and undergraduate
  • Number of scholarly publications
  • Number of non-instructional assignments, research appointments, and sabbaticals
  • Number of faculty and student exchanges
  • Number and amount of grants
  • Entrance and exit assessment results
  • Number of faculty who participate in teaching the UIS general education curriculum

Strategic Thrust #2: Dialogue

Making a Difference in the World will be achieved through DIALOGUE on public policy, civic culture, and engagement. This is a process of intellectual and experiential engagement that exposes participants to a wide range of information, opinions, values, experiences, and perspectives that will broaden and enrich engagement. Discussion, interaction, and experience will help develop the understanding and knowledge necessary to promote informed action on public policy and civic culture. Students, faculty, the UIS community, alumni, and outside constituents will have the opportunity to develop and participate in these activities.

Action Step #4: Develop public affairs events and forums, speakers’ series, and academic and policy conferences.

Action Step #5: Promote and facilitate faculty presentations and service activities to community, business, professional, and advocacy groups.

Action Step #6: Increase support for faculty to participate in conferences and workshops, including travel money.

Action Step #7: Contribute to and develop community organizations that focus on engagement issues, such as the World Affairs Council of Central Illinois.

Performance Indicators for strategic thrust #2:

  • Number of events, forums, and lectures
  • Student and participant evaluations of events, forums, and lectures
  • Number of conferences held on campus
  • Number of campus research/scholarship forums
  • Number of faculty presentations, scholarly and applied
  • Number of participants at events, forums, lectures, conferences, and faculty presentations
  • Level of support for faculty travel
  • Number of partnerships with external groups
  • Number of service activities led by faculty
  • Level of alumni involvement


Strategic Thrust #3: Action

Making a Difference in the World will be achieved through ACTION on public policy and civic culture that results in engagement in the world outside the university. The UIS community will have the opportunity to transform civic culture and public affairs as a result of these activities and programs.

Action Step #8: Increase public recognition of UIS activities and accomplishments.

Action Step #9: Develop leadership skills in students by expanding the number of student organizations and increasing participation in student government.

Action Step #10: Create an Advocacy Academy in the Center for State Policy and Leadership to provide training and develop leadership skills in individuals and not-for-profit organizations.

Action Step #11: Increase support for applied research and program evaluation.

Action Step #12: Encourage faculty to become involved in policy development and to improve policy processes through the application of professional expertise and research findings and participation in private associations, nonprofit groups, and public organizations.

Action Step #13: Reaffirm the importance of faculty service; honor service in the personnel process – both professional service and engagement.

Action Step #14: Take the university to the community through outreach to civic organizations, businesses, governments, and schools.

Action Step #15: Create an Illinois Democracy Project in the Center for State Policy and Leadership with the following goals: restoring the legitimacy of democratic institutions in Illinois; improving access to elections and to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches; and improving the quality of Illinois’ electoral, legislative, executive, and judicial processes.

Action Step #16: Increase UIS support of the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business and Management.

Performance Indicators for strategic thrust #3:

  • Number of experiential learning placements
  • Number of student organizations and number of participants
  • Creation of Advocacy Academy
  • Number of scholarly and applied publications
  • Amount of policy development activity by faculty
  • Amount of service by faculty members
  • Number of community outreach activities
  • Number of advocacy workshops and training programs
  • Creation of Illinois Democracy Project

Performance Indicators for all three strategic thrusts:

  • Participation by all undergraduate students in engagement activities as part of their undergraduate experience. These activities will be supported by a broad cross section of the faculty from academic programs, the General Education Council, and units such as the AST office, Student Affairs units, and the public affairs activities of units of the Center for State Policy and Leadership.
  • Opportunities for graduate students, faculty members, programs, colleges, campus units, alumni, the UIS community, and citizens to develop, deliver, and participate in engagement activities.