California State University, San Marcos


California State University, San Marcos
Democracy in Action
Case Type
Program Stories
School Size
0 - 20,000
Focus Areas
Democratic Governance, Environment Sustainability
Business, Entrepreneurial, Marketing, Sociology

Democracy in Action

Website |

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.

In this community engagement practice, the university contracts with the city in a consultant capacity. 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; 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.

The pilot program, in partnership with the City of San Marcos, launched in Spring 2017. Democracy in Action typically supports two to four projects per semester and as many disciplines, with 35-40 students per class. The projects completed in Spring 2017 focused on Emergency Medical Services, Sports Marketing, Storm Water Management, and a Video Project. In Fall 2017, the projects include a Parking Project and a Social Media and Analytics Project.

Fun Facts about Democracy in Action

At the start of each semester, participants in Democracy in Action come together at city hall for a program Launch event. The first such event, in February 2017, included tours of city hall and an opportunity for students to connect with city staff in a Table Talks exercise. The Table Talks proved the most successful aspect of the event, with students excited about the “chance to network in such a casual setting as well as hear about what they do and how it impacts us as a community.” Among the participants from the city were members of San Marcos City Council, the City Manager, and city staff.

Year Program Established | 2016
Country | US
Federal Region of Program | 9

Public or Private Institution | Public
Number of students at institution | 17,000

Highlight Articles/Videos

Democracy in Action projects with San Marcos
San Marcos and CSUSM join forces to benefit the community
Students Make a Difference in Community through ‘Democracy in Action’ by David Ogul
San Marcos, CSUSM ‘Democracy in Action’ pilot kicks off by Aaron Burgin

City Partners

2017-20 | San Marcos • Population: 95,261

Contact Info

Shelby Rogers
Interim Director for Service Learning and Civic Engagement
(760) 750-8171

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