Higher Education

Higher Education

Make the preparation of skilled democratic citizens a priority at colleges and universities.

An initiative to fundamentally strengthen democracy by developing a culture of commitment to American constitutional democracy and one another.

In a healthy constitutional democracy, community college, college and university students are prepared to be informed and engaged citizens. But it’s harder than ever for students: they are navigating an increasingly polarized landscape in which they feel isolated and disconnected from democratic institutions and civic culture. Moreover, hyper partisanship impedes their ability to address key public policy issues and become fully engaged citizens.

One solution is to increase institutional investment in building civic capacities among students, as set forth in Our Common PurposeWhen students work together, they can realize their civic agency and capacity to solve problems across lines of difference. However, many current efforts to prepare students for participatory democracy are isolated or siloed from other campus initiatives. For an institution of higher education to successfully develop engaged citizens, that goal must be established as a priority and supported across all aspects of campus life. The working group will set forth a vision and a plan in which colleges and universities can inspire a culture of commitment to American constitutional democracy and can create an environment that fosters civic learning and democratic citizenship.  

The Working Group advancing this initiative is focused on developing a comprehensive guide with specific models, mechanisms, and measurements that community colleges, four-year colleges and universities can use to prepare democratic citizens in ways that connect meaningfully across campus.

The working group is focused on developing a comprehensive guide with specific models, mechanisms, and measurements that post-secondary institutions can use to contextualize their strategies for prioritizing the preparation of democratic citizens and implement them with a holistic campus ecology in mind.


  • David Campbell, Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy, The University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN; Member of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship
  • Ben Vinson III, President, Howard University, Washington, DC; Member of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship


  • Josh Blakely, Director, Brock Experiences, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
  • Trevor Brown, Dean, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  • Jane Kamensky, President, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, VA
  • Devorah Lieberman, former President, University of La Verne, La Verne, CA
  • Fayneese Miller, President, Hamline University, St. Paul, MN
  • David Oxtoby, President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA
  • Laurie Patton, President, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
  • Sandra Peart, Dean, Jepson School of Leadership Studies and E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professor in Leadership Studies, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA
  • Carol Quillen, President Emerita, Davidson College, Davidson, NC
  • Ravi Perry, Professor, Department of Political Science, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
  • Eric Reveno, Associate Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
  • Anthony Scott, Chief Inclusion & Belonging Officer, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
  • Sarah Surak, Associate Professor, Political Science and Environmental Studies, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD
  • Andrew Taramykin, Student Civic Engagement Assistant at Bob Graham Center for Public Service, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Nancy Thomas, Senior Adviser to the President for Democracy Initiatives and Director, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, American Association of Colleges and Universities, Washington, DC
  • Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo, Associate Vice Chancellor, Center for Excellence in Inclusive Democracy, Maricopa Community Colleges
  • Marianne Wanamaker, Dean, Howard H. Baker Jr. School of Public Policy and Public Affairs, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
  • Scott Warren, Visiting Fellow, SNF Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

To learn more about this initiative, please contact Abhishek Raman.