As polarization and disaffection threaten to damage our democratic republic permanently, we must prepare students to engage effectively and constructively in public life. This Education for Democracy collections contains a variety of non-partisan resources that can be utilized within higher education to help heal and reinvigorate our democracy.

Education for Democracy in Action

This knowledge hub emphasizes five core components, each focused on a critical aspect of democratic learning. Find key resources under each of the areas below. 

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Section 1: Student Voting Resources

Colleges are a huge, under-appreciated, and invaluable resource to inspire and equip individuals to vote in their upcoming elections. Colleges and universities, no matter public or private, 2-year or 4-year, are not only influential to their students, but are typically huge employment agencies in the area as well as prominent and multi-faceted community establishments!

Key Resources: 
  • Democracy Matters: A Guide to Non-Salutary Barriers to Voting
    • This guide, produced in partnership with Tisch College's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), walks through the sometimes-hidden barriers students face and offer strategies for overcoming them. The guide tackles challenges in several different areas: election administration, voter registration, the voting process—including Election Day)—and institutional discretion, offering concrete steps and solutions. The guide also includes a workbook that allows leaders to track their progress and provides additional resources.
  • Election Imperatives: Ten Recommendations to Increase College Student Voting and Improve Political Learning and Engagement in Democracy
    • Election Imperatives is a collaborative, practitioner-focused document that grounds this important work in years of research. In this document, there are ten recommendations for what campuses can do to make 2018 an important moment for student political learning. Drawing from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE)’s research on college student voting and the campus climates of highly politically engaged institutions, the ten recommendations focus on how to increase student voting and to improve campus conditions for political learning, discourse, and agency during the election season and beyond.
  • Electoral Engagement in Community Colleges Knowledge Hub

    • This knowledge hub provides a clearinghouse of resources for community college electoral engagement based on 2018's Engage the Election project.

  • Graduating Students Into Voters: Overcoming the Psychological Barriers Faced by Student Voters

    • This brief has two sections: one discussing common barriers to voting, and one identifying solutions. They can be read in either order. Use the graphic below to decide where to start. Look inside to find out why students may fail to register and vote, based on ideas42’s behavioral science research, and explore evidence-based solutions college leaders can use to improve the effectiveness of their registration and turnout efforts.

  • Higher Education's Role in Enacting a Thriving Democracy

    • The essays in this collection reflect the collaborative work and thoughts of participants in three national higher education networks focused on civic learning and democratic engagement. The three networks, the American Association of State College and Universities’ American Democracy Project, the NASPA LEAD Initiative, and The Democracy Commitment, first convened together in New Orleans for the inaugural Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting in 2015. Since then, the three organizations have convened the annual CLDE conference and worked with colleagues to envision the thriving democracy toward which our work is directed, aligning learning outcomes, pedagogies, and strategies with this vision. 

  • Institutionalizing Voter Engagement: A Guide to Developing and Adopting Handbook Language

    • Institutionalizing Voter Engagement was created to help campuses unpack what institutionalizing voter engagement means and further campuses’ ability to prepare students as active citizens. The guide provides a working definition for voter engagement, methods for building programs, and arguments to support engaging students as voters. The purpose of Institutionalizing Voter Engagement is to support administrators in developing and implementing handbook language that commits institutions to carrying out voter engagement.

  • Spotlight on MSI's: Turning Activism into Votes

    • Produced by University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions with partner organizations, this report highlights MSIs that are successfully implementing civic engagement initiatives on their campuses.  Despite a legacy of being civically active, many MSI students today continue to face barriers getting to the polls.  Nevertheless, many MSIs persist and advocate for student democratic engagement. This report serves to highlight some of those MSIs, including Prairie View A & M University (TX), Miami Dade College, and Northeastern Illinois University, which are overcoming barriers to voting for their students—institutions that serve as role models for turning student activism into votes.

  • Strengthening American Democracy

    • This handbook from the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition is a tool designed to help faculty, staff, and students write strong action plans to increase civic learning, democratic engagement, and voting rates among college students. It provides a framework for developing and documenting institutional goals and strategies. It is not meant to be prescriptive and should be adapted to institutional context.  The Students Learn Students Vote Coalition promotes civic learning and engagement on campuses across the country by providing a series of key steps and information on best practices that institutions can use to create a more voter-friendly campus.

  • Student Voter Engagement Handbook

    • This handbook from Campus Vote Project provides a tested format for student leaders to work with peers, administrators, and community members to engage fellow students.  From laying out barriers to student registration and voting to best practices on sustaining student engagement efforts on campus, this handbook is a valuable resource that is provided free and available to all students.

  • Andrew Goodman Foundation's Vote Everywhere Ambassador Handbook

    • The Andrew Goodman Foundation works to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy. Working to support youth leadership development, voting accessibility, and social justice initiatives on campuses, the foundation awards mini-grants to select institutions of higher learning and other financial assistance to student leaders across the country.  The foundation’s Ambassador Handbook is the go-to guide for voter engagement on campuses including best practices and case studies on hosting voter registration drives or other events.

Voting Resources and Toolkits

Below are resources  that help explain and simplify what it takes to cast your vote and how you might encourage and organize others to do the same:

Voting Affinity Organizations

  • Black Voters Matter: This organization’s goal is to increase power in our communities. They help development infrastructure where little/none exists.  This includes staff training, candidate development and network development.​ We advocate for policies to expand voting rights/access, including expanded early voting, resisting voter ID, re-entry restoration of rights and strengthening the Voting Rights Act.  We also advocate for policies that intersect with race, gender, economic and other aspects of equity.​
  • Students Learn Students Vote Coalition: SLSVC  is an organization that offers campus checklists, sample campus voting plans, the #VoteTogether Initiative, the ALLIn Campus Democracy Challenge Resource Hub, and more!
  • ALLIn Campus Democracy Challenge: The All IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a national awards program that recognizes colleges and universities for their commitment to increasing student voting rates.
  • Voto Latino: Voto Latino is a pioneering civic media organization that seeks to transform America by recognizing Latinos’ innate leadership.
  • Rock the Vote: Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people. We’ve registered and turned out millions of young voters on campuses, in communities, and online. We’ve successfully fought for — and defended — voting rights and increased access to democracy. We’ve raised awareness and campaigned for issues that impact the lives of young people. We’ve pioneered innovative ways to make registration and voting work for our generation, and built open-source technology to empower other organizations, too. 
  • Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote: APIAVote envisions a world that is inclusive, fair, and collaborative, and where Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities are self-determined, empowered, and engaged.
  • Vote by Design: Vote by Design takes a design-thinking and student-centered approach to building citizen agency and voter confidence. Our interactive, non-partisan curriculum allows educators, civic organizers, and community leaders to help NextGen voters find clarity on what leadership qualities are most important to them in a U.S. President — and why.
  • Campus Election Engagement Project: Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) is a national nonpartisan project that helps administrators, faculty, staff, and student leaders at America’s colleges and universities engage students in federal, state, and local elections. We work with stakeholders throughout our more than 400 partner campuses to engage students in democracy. We provide personalized coaching, guiding schools on how to use our resources and navigate students through ever-changing barriers to voting.
  • League of Women Voters: The League of Women Voters of the United States encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.They work to register voters and provide voters with election information through voter guides as well as candidate forums and debates.
  • Ask Every Student:  A project of the National Resource Consortium on Full Student  Participation, Ask Every Student seeks to create research-backed processes, systems, and tools to answer that question. We’ve found that the key to reaching full student voter participation comes down to accessing a few minutes of individualized focus from every student on campus to prepare them to confidently navigate the democratic process. The National Resource Consortium is a project of NASPA, NASPA LEAD Initiative, Fair Election Center and other partners
  • Civic Alliance:  Civic Alliance is a nonpartisan coalition of businesses united by our commitment to a thriving democracy. We stand together in support of fair and transparent elections, in which voting is safe and accessible. And we use the combined influence of our platforms to empower every American to use their voice.
Section 2: Democracy in Principle and Practice

Section 2: Democracy in Principle and Practice

  • BallotReady: Vote Informed on the Entire Ballot
    • Check your registration, make a plan to vote, and research every name and measure on the ballot with BallotReady.
  • Campus Engagement Election Project: Candidate, Issues, and Primary Guides
    • People often don’t vote because they don’t know where candidates stand and are confused about how to find out. In response, CEEP creates nonpartisan, state-specific guides to help navigate key positions. We research salient voting records and what candidates say to different groups, not just what they say on their websites, so the guides are an antidote to political spin. Our research team includes a long-time Encyclopaedia Britannica editor and veteran reporters from Los Angeles Times, Time, Business Week and AP. If you’re at a college or university, please use our distribution suggestions to help share our guides campus-wide. Click here for a stripped-down version of this page with just the current map.

  • Census 2020 Knowledge Hub

    • This knowledge hub provides essential information and resources about the 2020 Census for institutions of higher education. Please use the menu to navigate through the compiled resources.

  • iCivics: "Do I Have A Right?" constitution learning game

    • In iCivics’ Do I Have A Right?, students run their own firm of lawyers who specialize in constitutional law. During the course of the game, students will decide if potential clients are protected by constitutional rights, match them with the best lawyer to defend them, and try the case in court. Students grow their law firm by serving more clients, winning more cases, and expanding and testing their knowledge of the constitution. 

  • Election Information You Need

    • This digital tool allows you to simply enter your address to find your polling place, build your ballot with our online voters' guide and much more.  With Voting411, you can see the races on your ballot, compare candidates' positions side-by-side, and print out a "ballot" indicating your preferences as a reminder and take it with you to the polls on Election Day.  This tool is produced by the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan civic organization that was formed to help women take a larger role in public affairs after they won the right to vote and now encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Section 3: Deliberation for our Shared Future

Key Resources: 

  • Creating Space for Democracy: A Primer on Dialogue and Deliberation in Higher Education.
    • This book provides a guide for doing deliberation and dialogue on campus. Intended for all educators who are concerned about democracy, the book imparts the power and impact of public talk, offers the insights and experiences of leading practitioners, and provides the grounding to adopt or adapt the models in their own settings to create educative spaces and experiences that are humanizing, authentic, and productive. It is an important resource for campus leaders, student affairs practitioners, librarians, and centers of institutional diversity, community engagement, teaching excellence and service-learning, as well as faculty, particularly those in the fields of communication studies, education, and political science.
  • National Issue Forum's Deliberation Guides
Section 4: Media Fact and Fiction

Solutions Journalism stories highlighting innovative ways communities are building democracy and civic engagement. The Whole Story on Democracy in Action >

Section 5: Teaching for Democracy


  • Civic Prompts—Making Civic Learning Routine across the Disciplines
    • AASCU’s sister organization has produced a free publication entitled Civic Prompts: Making Civic Learning Routine across the Disciplines. This report suggests a need to 1) change the definition/current conception of civic learning, 2) more clearly articulate precisely what a “civic minded” institution is, and 3) ensure that all educators are capable of engaging their field of study through a civic lens. The report also advocates engaging students in the “big question” of civic learning; preparing students to not only have knowledge of civic engagement but to also actually take action; and highlighting personal and social responsibilities in every discipline.
  • Facilitating Political Discussions: A Facilitator Training Workshop Guide

    • Created during the polarizing 2016 election season, this step-by-step workshop guide trains facilitators to manage politically charged discussions on campus. In this packet, you will find exercise, readings, handouts, and worksheets on everything from building relationships, establishing ground rules, taking perspectives, troubleshooting degrading speech, and balancing free speech and inclusion.

  • Strengthening American Democracy

    • This handbook from the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition is a tool designed to help faculty, staff, and students write strong action plans to increase civic learning, democratic engagement, and voting rates among college students. It provides a framework for developing and documenting institutional goals and strategies. It is not meant to be prescriptive and should be adapted to institutional context.  The Students Learn Students Vote Coalition promotes civic learning and engagement on campuses across the country by providing a series of key steps and information on best practices that institutions can use to create a more voter-friendly campus.

  • Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines

    • For a democracy to function effectively, its citizens must participate. Furthermore, these same citizens must deliberate effectively, engage with one another, and arrive at workable compromises. Although these skills are critical for a vibrant society, the means to learn and develop them—civic engagement education—is lacking in American education today. Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines evaluates the goals, challenges, and rewards of integrating civic education into the curriculum, highlighting best practices across disciplines and campuses.

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