Nicholas V. (Nick) Longo is Director of the Global Studies Program and Associate Professor of Public and Community Service Studies at Providence College. He has both organized and published extensively on civic education, community-based learning, youth political engagement and leadership. He served as a member of Minnesota Campus Compact’s board of directors while a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, where he earned an M.P.A. from the Humphrey Institute and a Ph.D. in education.
1) What about your college and/or grad school experience influenced where you are today?
I was introduced to service-learning as an undergraduate and it transformed my life, helping me see that I didn’t have to choose between my desire to be a good student/eventually get a job and my desire to change the world. I then chose to go to graduate school in a place where I could connect my education with a commitment to civic life, which I was able to do at the University of Minnesota because of the amazing work of organizations like the Center for Democracy and Citizenship (now at Augsburg College), Jane Addams School for Democracy, and Minnesota Campus Compact.
2) What do you wish you’d known or done while a student?
This is a tough question, because it seems like the older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know. But maybe there is a wisdom in being okay with that, as long as we don’t lose the impatience for justice we tend to feel most strongly when we are coming of age as students. I would also say that I have come to find that the best–and most under-appreciated–learning tends to come from mistakes. So there is actually some advantage to trying to do things we don’t know how to do…and failing. That said, I do wish I had formally studied abroad and studied a foreign language in college, which are both actually required in the Global Studies program at Providence College [where I am director].
3) What is the most exciting aspect of your job?
Learning from my student colleagues, who continually inspire me.
4) What book should everybody read, and why?
I and Thou by Martin Buber because it provides a philosophical grounding for the kinds of deep, reciprocal relationships we should all strive for in our campus-community partnerships.
5) Who or what is inspiring you these days?
Aside from my students, I have been deeply inspired by the Arab Spring and the transformations which are occurring in the Middle East and North Africa. I was actually lucky enough to visit Egypt in March, just weeks after the fall of the dictatorship, and meet with some of the young leaders who organized the revolution. Of course the road forward will not be easy in the Arab World–or elsewhere, for that matter– but the way these young people organized a non-violent movement without a hierarchical leadership structure using some of the new technology now available gives me a great sense of democratic hope.