Leading Higher Education Organizations Mobilize to Engage All College Students in Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement (CLDE)
Project Pericles today joined forces with dozens of higher education and student success organizations to announce a “Shared Commitment” to make “Democracy Learning a Top Priority for Postsecondary Education.”
Democracy faces monumental challenges in the U.S. and world-wide. And in this pivotal era, “Shared Commitment’ calls on the higher education community to take concerted action to help build Americans’ readiness to tackle urgent public problems, together.
Urging “equity-committed civic learning,” the “Shared Commitment” signatories call for civic inquiry, practice in civil discourse, and collaborative work on real-world public problems to be part of each postsecondary student’s educational pathway.
Jan Liss, Executive Director of Project Pericles, shared, “Eugene Lang founded Project Pericles to reinforce higher education’s responsibility to prepare students to be effective citizens and leaders of their communities, nations, and world. Project Pericles and our colleges and universities, remain committed to democracy as a top priority in undergraduate education.
Our programs empower college students by giving them the tools they need to solve society's grand challenges: Climate Change, Education Access, Immigration, Mass Incarceration, Public Health, Race and Inequality, and Voter Engagement.
A few examples—The Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program supports faculty to teach innovative courses in collaboration with a community partner. Students in PFL courses apply academic content to address grand challenges raised by community partners, and campuses develop meaningful partnerships with their local community. Debating for Democracy (D4D) is a series of co-curricular programs and workshops that teach students skills they need to advance their issues and to get their messages across to elected officials, the media, and the community. The Periclean Voting Modules are a free resource for faculty across all disciplines to incorporate deliberative dialogue and voter education into their courses.”
Project Pericles appreciates the support of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Students Learn Students Vote Coalition, The Teagle Foundation, Up to Us, individual donors, and many others for supporting this important work.
The Shared Commitment pledge was organized by the Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement (CLDE). Founded by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), Complete College America (CCA) and College Promise, CLDE is working in partnership with civic learning organizations and initiatives across the U.S.
CLDE builds from the revival of civic learning already spreading across K-12 and hundreds of postsecondary institutions, spurred by the work of many educational organizations that endorsed the Shared Commitment statement.
“These efforts are a strong beginning, but much more is needed to make democracy learning expected, rather than possible, for postsecondary students,” said leaders of the organizations that joined the “Shared Commitment” pledge.
The problem, say CLDE leaders, is that students from underserved communities are often the least likely to take part in programs and courses that help engage them with urgent public problems.
CLDE seeks to expand the national debate from its insufficient focus on skills and short-term training to a larger concern with all college students’ civic, historical, global, and intercultural knowledge, and students’ active work on pressing public problems.
“Shared Commitment” signatories include the Higher Learning Commission which, in 2020, made civic engagement a criterion for the 967 institutions it accredits. Further, three signatory state systems recently launched comprehensive initiatives to advance civic learning for all students in their public community colleges and universities.
Other signatories are working in private higher education, in public and private consortia, and in active and ongoing partnerships between universities and community-based organizations, local governments, and philanthropies.
The CLDE coalition will work on four goals to engage college students with democracy’s future:
To learn more about Project Pericles’ initiatives on civic learning and democracy engagement, please visit our website which features more information on our programs including: The Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program™, Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ , and the Periclean Voting Modules.
To sign the Shared Commitment statement, join the CLDE movement, and share your own work toward the CLDE goals, visit www.CollegeCivicLearning.org.