For Immediate Release • February 8, 2018
Contact: Jennifer Walpole • (202) 478-4665
AASCU and 12 of its member institutions will partner with the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life to improve student political learning and participation in democracy.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, the American Democracy Project (ADP), a program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), announced a new two-year initiative, Assessing and Improving Political Learning and Engagement on Campus. Building on the long-standing programmatic commitment of ADP to preparing informed and politically engaged citizens for our democracy, this initiative aims to improve nonpartisan student political learning and participation.
ADP will partner with the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life on this research-to-practice initiative. Over the course of two years, 12 AASCU campuses will test tools with which to assess campus climates for political learning and engagement. Together, campus teams working with researchers from IDHE will pilot processes for engaging campus communities in measuring, understanding and improving campus climates in order to ensure that all students are prepared to be informed, engaged citizens.
Amanda Antico, executive director of AASCU’s American Democracy Project, notes, “Too few young Americans participate in even the most fundamental forms of civic engagement, such as voting. Unequal participation results in unequal representation. These conditions obstruct our ability as a nation to address and resolve complex social and political problems, which is why this initiative is important and necessary. ADP hopes to educate, inspire and prepare college students for a life of active civic engagement in order to cultivate a more vibrant democracy.”
Twelve AASCU member institutions have been chosen to participate in this initiative: Central State University (Ohio); Fayetteville State University (N.C.); Ferris State University (Mich.); Illinois State University (Ill.); Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (Ind.); James Madison University (Va.); Keene State College (N.H.); Sam Houston State University (Texas); San Francisco State University (Calif.); Stockton University (N.J.); University of Nebraska Omaha (Neb.); and Weber State University (Utah).
According to IDHE Director Nancy Thomas, “Colleges and universities play a critical role in ensuring the health and future of our democracy, and AASCU campuses are on the front line of that work. The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life is proud to be working with AASCU’s American Democracy Project. This critical partnership has implications not just for the participating campuses, but for all colleges and universities.”
Together, ADP, IDHE and the 12 participating campuses will develop a reliable and replicable approach to assessing and changing campus climates for political learning and engagement, as well as a set of interventions for other campuses to use. The campuses will serve as a set of model institutions from which others can learn about how to cultivate campus climates that best prepare students with the necessary knowledge, skills and commitment to political learning and participation.
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise of Opportunities for All.
The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, serves as a leading venue for research, resources, and advocacy on college student political learning and engagement in democracy. Through research, resource development, and convenings, the Institute strives to inform and shift college and university priorities, practices, and culture to strengthen democracy and advance social and political equity. The only university-wide college of its kind, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life offers transformational student learning and service opportunities, conducts groundbreaking research on young people’s civic and political participation, and forges innovative community partnerships.