Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking

Completed Project: 2012-2014

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and The Democracy Commitment: An American Community College Initiative (TDC) launched a three-year curriculum and faculty development project in 2012 supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking.

Diversity has always characterized our nation’s democracy and marked differential access to opportunities. In the face of ever increasing diversity, intensified globalization, and hardening political polarization, it is more urgent than ever that higher education—and the humanities in particular—offer vehicles through which students expand their knowledge of each other’s cultures and develop skills to work across differences toward shared goals. As a microcosm of our nation’s diversity, community colleges are the ideal public space to infuse such learning, and the humanities—steeped in the practice of entering imaginatively into other people’s lives and worldviews through literature, history, and philosophy—are particularly well-suited to cultivate these capacities.

Ten community colleges were selected to participate as leadership institutions in the Bridging Cultures project:

  • Chandler-Gilbert Community College (AZ)
  • City University of New York, Kingsborough Community College (NY)
  • County College of Morris (NJ)
  • Georgia Perimeter College (GA)
  • Kapi'olani Community College (HI)
  • Lone Star College - Kingwood (TX)
  • Miami Dade College (FL)
  • Middlesex Community College (MA)
  • Mount Wachusett Community College (MA)
  • Santa Fe College (FL)

The project included a summer faculty development institute in August 2012 and culminated in a symposium in October 2014.

Program Goals

These ten institutions will engage humanities faculty and administrators in intensive efforts to:

  • infuse questions about difference, community, and democratic thinking into transfer courses in the humanities;
  • promote greater adoption of proven high-impact practices that advance important civic learning outcomes;
  • create a series of humanities-enriched professional development opportunities for community college faculty, especially adjunct faculty; and
  • expand the project’s impact through collaboration with additional community colleges and partnerships with state humanities councils.