The Council of Europe

 AAC&U has been a member of the US Steering Committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy (IC) since the latter's inception over a decade ago. Through its involvement in the IC, AAC&U collaborates with the Council of Europe in their mission to highlight and advance the contributions of higher education to democracy on college and university campuses, their local communities and the wider society. Other members of the IC US Steering Committee include the American Council on Education, the Association of State Colleges and Universities, and Campus Compact. The U.S.-based Consortium is housed at the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania.


Global Forum

“Higher Education for Diversity, Social Inclusion, and Community: A Democratic Imperative”

15-16 June 2017

LUMSA University, Rome

This conference is part of the cooperation between different partners committed to promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law as well as intercultural dialogue to promote social harmony and justice, and the belief in the key role of education in furthering these goals. 

Context: Democracy is faced with serious challenges, including mistrust of democratic institutions, increasing political, educational, and economic inequalities, alienation, rising intolerance, and rejection of cultural diversity. Higher education must play an essential role in building a culture of democracy based on furthering inclusion, recognizing the value of diversity, and fostering democratic communities.

This is the fifth global forum that has developed as a core component of the ongoing partnership between the Council of Europe and the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as social cohesion and intercultural dialogue through higher education.  The 2017 Global Forum is sponsored by the Council of Europe; the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy; the European Wergeland Centre; and the host universities, LUMSA University and Australian Catholic University-Rome Campus.

Outcomes of the Global Forum:

  • An increased commitment to higher education’s contribution to developing and advancing a culture of democracy.
  • A better understanding of how higher education can work democratically with communities to promote inclusion and diversity.
  • A volume in the Council of Europe Higher Education Series

Schedule: The Conference will include plenary sessions, group work, and a round table debate as well as a social program. 

Participants: Higher education leaders and scholars and representatives of public authorities and NGOs from Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Declaration on Higher Education and Democratic Culture

American college and university presidents are invited to sign the Council of Europe's Declaration on Higher Education and Democratic Culture. By signing, the institution commits to taking action in their local, national and global communities to put the principles of democracy, civic responsibility and citizenship into practice.

The declaration states that “Democracy cannot exist without strong institutions and sound legislation, but it also cannot work without being based on democratic culture. Education and schooling are decisive forces shaping the democratic development of societies; and universities, in turn, are strategic institutions for the democratic development of schooling and societies.”

The declaration was developed and adopted during a two-day forum Higher Education and Democratic Culture: Citizenship, Human Rights and Civic Responsibility, sponsored by the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research (CDESR). It was held in 2006 at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, France. The declaration builds on related previous Council of Europe activities such as the pilot project on the University as a Site of Citizenship, organized jointly with an international consortium of U.S. higher education organizations with the University of Pennsylvania playing a leading role, and the Council of Europe initiative for the European Year of Citizenship through Education in 2005.

AAC&U has an ongoing commitment to promoting personal and social responsibility as a learning outcome in a liberal education.

About the Council of Europe

Established in 1949, the Council of Europe defends human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, develops continent-wide agreements to standardize member countries' social and legal practices, and promotes awareness of a European identity based on shared values and cutting across different cultures.

Europe’s oldest political organization, the Council’s membership totals 46 countries, including 21 countries from Central and Eastern Europe. For more information, please visit the Council of Europe website.