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Democracy in Action

Spring 2020 Launch Party Students with Parks and Rec Staff and City Council Members

Democracy in Action

Democracy in Action is a community engagement practice through which CSUSM faculty and students partner with a local city government to conduct research, gathering qualitative and quantitative data to benefit city projects that are back-logged or need additional attention.

Faculty and students work closely with city officials to hone their expertise on specific scopes of work, and the students provide a polished, final report to the city.  In the process, students learn about city government, attend city council meetings, become more civically engaged, and ideally consider the prospects of working in local government.

Democracy in Action is modeled after the Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) in the Sustainable Cities Initiative at University of Oregon and is part of a larger consortium of universities and colleges that participate in the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N). Whereas the Sustainable City Year Program focuses primarily on sustainability, Democracy in Action emphasizes civic learning and democratic engagement.

The Spring 2020 semester marked the fifth semester of Democracy in Action projects in partnership with the City of San Marcos.

Spring 2020

The spring 2020 project was a collaboration with the City of San Marcos:

Fall 2019

For fall 2019, CSUSM faculty worked with the City of San Marcos on one project:

The CSUSM NewsCenter profiled the project, Public Art Project Reinforces Values of Democracy in Action.

Spring 2018

In spring 2018 CSUSM faculty worked with the City of San Marcos on two projects:

Fall 2017

In our second semester, CSUSM faculty worked collaboratively with the City of San Marcos on two projects; the final reports are linked through the project titles below:     


Spring 2017

Our inaugural Democracy in Action project is in partnership with the City of San Marcos. In our first semester CSUSM faculty worked collaboratively with the City of San Marcos on four projects:

The pilot program was profiled in the CSUSM NewsCenter when the program initially launched.

Launch Event

launch event students

Each semester, the Democracy in Action Launch brings participating CSUSM students, faculty, and staff together with San Marcos City Council and staff at San Marcos City Hall to celebrate the start of the semester. The reception-style event features remarks from the Honorable Jim Desmond, Mayor of San Marcos and Dr. Patricia Prado-Olmos, Vice President of Community Engagement at CSUSM.  Students tour City Hall and learned about the functions of city government in small-group conversations with city representatives.