Education for Democracy

As polarization and disaffection threaten to damage our democratic republic permanently, we must prepare students to engage effectively and constructively in public life. Education for Democracy is an important new non-partisan initiative designed to help heal and reinvigorate our democracy.

Education for Democracy has the potential to reach more than 6 million students—one-third of undergraduates in the country—at more than 1,000 public, private, two-year, and four-year institutions. Education for Democracy aims to build the knowledge, skills, and motivations to catalyze responsible and effective student participation in public life and policy.

Key Programs

Building Blocks of Engaged Citizenship

Our goal is to establish an expectation that every student of higher education will engage in courses, programs, and activities that build the knowledge, skills, and motivations that will lead to effective and responsible participation in democracy–now and throughout students’ lives.

  • Knowledge of current issues and events in historical context
  • Understanding of key concepts such as rights, responsibilities, and power
  • Understanding of systems and processes for voting, policy-making, protesting, and otherwise contributing to the direction of local, state, and national communities
  • Capacity to judge the soundness of public policies and to hold representatives accountable
  • Gathering and assessing information
  • Engaging with others for shared work to achieve public goals
  • Influencing elected officials and members of the public
  • Listening to alternative views and engaging respectfully and responsibly
  • Recognition of the relevance of political issues to students’ own lives and values

Education for Democracy in Action

Education for Democracy consists of six core components, each focused on a critical aspect of democratic learning. Find out more about each initiative by clicking the links below.

Student Voting Matters

Goal: to increase the proportion of college students who vote in local, state, and national elections. Learn more >

Democracy in Principle and Practice

Goal: to increase student understanding of the underpinnings of democracy and the workings of democratic institutions. Learn more >

Student Leadership for Democracy

Goal: To build a network of student leaders committed to democratic renewal. Learn more >

Media Fact and Fiction

Goal: to increase the capacity of students to distinguish reliable from unreliable political information. Learn more >

Deliberation for Our Shared Future

Goal: to increase students’ capacities to listen respectfully to the ideas of others and engage in both constructive and critical discussion of public questions. Learn more >

Teaching for Democracy

Goal: to prepare faculty and staff to develop and execute high-quality courses and programs focused on democratic engagement. Learn more >

Programs will be brought to life through the collaborative efforts of Campus Compact’s national network of state and regional Compacts and in partnership with organizations that share our goals for the renewal of our democratic republic.

Our Supporters

Education for Democracy is supported by generous donations from foundations and individual gifts. We would especially like to thank the members of the Education for Democracy Founders Circle.

Education for Democracy was supported at its inception by the following visionary 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 SUNY Buffalo State
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
Shouan Pan, Chancellor of Seattle Colleges
Vincent Price, President of Duke University
Adam Weinberg, President of Denison University


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