Campus Compact Launches Education for Democracy

July 22, 2018

Colleges must do more to teach students about voting and democracy (opinion)

PS: Political Science and Politics, the American Political Science Association journal, recently published a paper on the results of a project in which more than 500 students in courses at 23 colleges and universities not only learned about American politics, they also engaged actively in observing 2016 election-day lines at polling places.

Introducing Education for Democracy

New initiative will build democratic skills, combat political complacency among college students.

Boston, MA – Campus Compact, a network of 1,000 higher education institutions committed to civic and community engagement, this week announced the launch of Education for Democracy. This major new non-partisan initiative aims to combat cynicism and political complacency among college students by equipping them with the skills and knowledge necessary for responsible participation in public policy issues and democratic life.

Education for Democracy has the potential reach more than six million students, or one third of undergraduates in the United States, at more than 1,000 colleges and universities. The initiative consists of six core components:

  • Student Voting Matters, to increase college student voting in local, state, and national elections
  • Democracy in Principle and Practice, to help students build an understanding of our democracy and the workings of democratic institutions
  • Deliberation for Our Shared Future, to improve students’ capacities to listen and engage in constructive and critical discussion of public questions
  • Media Fact and Fiction, to increase students’ ability to distinguish reliable from unreliable political information
  • Student Leadership for Democracy, to catalyze a student movement for full participation in democracy, leveraging Campus Compact’s existing Newman Civic Fellowship program
  • Teaching for Democracy, to prepare faculty and staff to develop and execute high-quality courses and programs focused on democratic engagement

“Our goal is to establish an expectation that every student will engage in courses, programs and activities aimed at preparing them for effective participation in democracy,” said Andrew Seligsohn, president of Campus Compact. “To that end, we call upon every college and university to identify the steps they must take to ensure democratic learning for all of their students. Education for Democracy will support those efforts.”

The first components of Education for Democracy will roll out to Campus Compact member institutions in the coming academic year. Institutions that would like to be involved may learn more at compact.org/education-for-democracy.

Education for Democracy is led by Campus Compact and was conceived in collaboration with Thomas Ehrlich, President Emeritus of Indiana University and former Chair of the Campus Compact Board of Directors. The project is supported at its inception by the following higher education presidents and chancellors:

Jonathan Alger, President of James Madison University
Lawrence Bacow, President of Harvard University
Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University – Newark
Katherine Conway-Turner, President of Buffalo State University
Bill Coppola, President of Tarrant County College Southeast Campus
Sean Decatur, President of Kenyon College
Charlene Dukes, President of Prince George’s Community College
Richard Guarasci, President of Wagner College
Phoebe Haddon, Chancellor of Rutgers University – Camden
Dianne Harrison, President of California State University, Northridge
Susan Herbst, President of University of Connecticut
Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor of University of Illinois Springfield
Michael McRobbie, President of Indiana University
Anthony P. Monaco, President of Tufts University
Brian Murphy, President of De Anza College (retired)
Shouan Pan, Chancellor of Seattle Colleges
Vincent Price, President of Duke University
Adam Weinberg, President of Denison University

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