Seeing these gaps widening, Brian Murphy (president De Anza College), Bernie Ronan (associate vice chancellor for Public Affairs for the Maricopa Community Colleges), and George Mehaffy (vice president for Academic Leadership and Change at American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) created TDC as a project that would mirror for community colleges what AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP) had done for state colleges and universities since 2003. Thus ADP and TDC grew out of a shared context of frustration and despair as well as a shared commitment to education and action.
TDC formally launched at the offices of The New York Times on November 11, 2011. 50 presidents and chancellors from community colleges and districts nationwide were early signatories dedicated to the cause of democracy in higher education, and to make democratic skills available to all individuals who desire a voice and a seat at the table of local, state, and national discourse and action. TDC has grown to provide a platform for the development and expansion of community college programs, projects, and curricula aimed at engaging students in civic learning and democratic engagement.
TDC sees community colleges as “stewards of place,” a term coined by AASCU in 2002. TDC aims to revitalize democracy in our communities– communities in which our community colleges are based, as well as committed to and responsible for; and communities from which their students come, and to which they return each day. To such end our programs have conceived of civic work broadly and successfully. TDC supports volunteerism and service learning, but we are also committed to the full range of civic work—including democratic practice, electoral engagement, community engagement, civic education integration and assessment, diversity, and deliberative democracy.
On July 1, 2018, TDC became an initiative of Campus Compact after seeing the urgent need to increase capacity and reach. TDC is now housed in Campus Compact National Office in Boston, Massachusetts.