Core Commitments: Leadership Consortium

If students are to be more accountable for pursuing excellence, integrity, and responsibility, we as campus leaders must also become more intentional and effective in articulating these expectations for student learning, in creating ongoing opportunities for students to engage and address them, in assessing how well they are acquiring these capacities, and in learning—together as an academic enterprise—from our shared progress.

Twenty-three institutions from across all sectors of higher education comprise the Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, which is designed to bring together the most promising institutional practices related to educating students for personal and social responsibility as well as to deepen and extend these efforts.

Chosen on the basis of work already accomplished and on an articulated plan to deepen and extend that work, these institutions were selected from a pool of more than 125 applicants in 2007.

As part of the Consortium's efforts, campus leadership teams administered the new Personal and Social Responsibility Institutional Inventory in the fall of 2007 to students, faculty, student affairs administrators, and academic administrators. The inventory is designed to identify where different groups on campus see opportunities to foster learning about personal and social responsibility and to serve as a catalyst for dialogues across the institution about ways to make such learning more pervasive. Pre- and post-inventory dialogues were held at each of the Leadership Consortium institutions.


Allegheny College

Through a culture of cooperation, Allegheny offers a variety of programs and innovative centers that support its vision of undergraduate learning rooted in academic rigor, civic engagement, and the development of integrity. During their participation in the first phase of the Core Commitments project, Allegheny used small group dialogues to identify opportunities for expanding, enhancing, and integrating personal and social responsibility initiatives on campus and with community partners. Additionally, five Civic Engagement Student Fellows collaborated with the project team to engage their peers in examining the dynamics of personal and social integrity and responsible citizenship. To learn more: Civic Engagement at Allegheny.

Babson College

Babson College provides a different kind of educationa dynamic living and learning experience where future leaders are immersed in business studies while engaging in entrepreneurial thought and action. Babson shapes the leaders our world needs most: those who can envision and navigate change, understand global perspectives, and motivate teams in a common purpose to create economic and social value. The students, faculty, and staff work together to address real-world problems and make a difference in the world. During their participation in the first phase of Core Commitments, Babson created a committee to better integrate and coordinate all of the College's efforts related to personal and social responsibility, to further student connection to nonprofit partners, to foster dialogue on respect for others and embracing diverse perspectives, and to develop materials to integrate personal and social responsibility into curricular and cocurricular activities. To learn more: Babson College Newsroom: Core Commitments

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University is committed to its vision of educating students to make thoughtful judgments about moral and ethical issues, engage in the community, and become responsible citizens. Their efforts revolve around a values initiative, the "BGeXperience," and an engagement initiative which focuses on community involvement and service learning. Established in 2002, the "BGeXperience" introduces all first year students to critical thinking about values through focused academic experiences. Participation in Core Commitments expanded the "BGeXperience," further intergrating these programs into curricula and co-curricular activities, cultivating cooperation between students and academic affairs, and creating new courses and learning opportunities.

California State University, Northridge

California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is a large, comprehensive, public, commuter university with close to 35,000 students. In order to reach the greatest number of students, the CSUN Core Commitment team focused on infusing education for personal and social responsibility throughout the writing programs and Freshman Seminars which nearly all incoming first-year students encounter. At CSUN, first-year writing is generally distributed between the Asian American Studies, Chicano/a Studies, English, Humanities, and Pan-African Studies departments. CSUN aimed to bridge the gaps between isolated pockets by strengthening cross-divisional relationships; developing a common language for communicating the shared values; and building an infrastructure for organizing programs that span academic departments, administrative units, and student affairs. To learn more:

Concordia College – Moorhead

In 2007, Concordia adopted a new core curriculum for the first time in thirty years. The theme of the new core, Becoming Responsibly Engaged in the World, illustrates the strong connection between Concordia's vision and AAC&U's five dimensions of personal and social responsibility. During their participation in the Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, Concordia aimed to bridge the gap between vision and practice by forming a broad-based task force to evaluate the implementation and assessment of the new core. Additionally, academic and student affairs collaborated by expanding the LeadNow program which promotes student leadership and service while fostering intercultural awareness. Finally, Concordia worked to strengthen its efforts to holistically teach and mentor students by addressing transitional issues, coordinating student service efforts, and initiating campus-wide discussions about student learning and student life.

Elizabethtown College

Molded by the mission of "Educate for Service," Elizabethtown College emphasizes relationship-centered and experiential learning as well as international and cross-cultural understanding. The Strategic Vision of the college calls for renewed efforts to prepare students for lives of purpose as citizens, leaders, and professionals. Elizabethtown's participation in the Core Commitments initiative facilitated the implementation of the Strategic Vision, particularly the following four major accomplishments: (1) Capacity building for an integrated learning model and the development of institutional language for Purposeful Life Work; (2) A new course on global ethics; (3) A new model for the First Year Colloquium course was developed and piloted; (4) Proposed model for LifeMAP.  To learn more:

Miami University – Ohio

In 2005, the Miami University administration formed a committee to assess and improve the state of academic integrity on campus. After participating in a national survey, conducting focus groups, and reviewing scholarly literature, the committee recommended strengthening the ways in which the university communicates its expectations of academic integrity. As part of the Core Commitments initiative, Miami University developed an online learning module focusing on academic integrity and ethical use of intellectual property. Satisfactory participation in this module was required for all first-year students. This project, Be Miami: An Infrastructure for Cultivating a Responsible and Intellectual College Life, enhanced the university's ability to foster the practice of integrity in the personal and academic lives of students.  To learn more: First in 2009 Academic Integrity Subcommittee: Final Report

Michigan State University

Prior to their involvement in Core Commitments, Michigan State University (MSU) was identified by the new Carnegie Classification system as an "engaged university." Through the Core Commitments project, MSU launched a collaborative campus dialogue based on the historic Chautauqua Institution, which became the model for building a culture of responsibility within the residential programs and eventually the larger university community. These dialogues among faculty, students, staff, and guests explore personal, social, and institutional responsibility within issues such as environmental change, the political process, social justice, war and peace, and artistic freedom of expression. One of MSU's goals in this project was to develop team-taught courses that address the larger subject of responsibility through new service learning, field experience, internship, civic engagement, and study abroad or away programs. This work included a trans-residential college capstone course which will mix students from different programs to study the multi-dimensionality of professional and civic responsibility.

Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College (MCC) is one of the largest community colleges in Massachusetts. As both an effective learning strategy and a community development instrument, MCC's service learning program, Contributing to a Larger Community, involves more than 600 students each year. Through MCC's Intensive Values course requirements and redefined learning outcome goals, students develop ethical and moral reasoning. Through participation in the Core Commitments program, MCC worked to establish a leadership team to foster a national dialogue to share and improve existing initiatives. Middlesex Community College piloted two integrated learning communities to study personal and social responsibility from a thematic perspective. To foster a campus climate that is supportive and respectful of diversity, MCC held frequent open dialogues across the college community and implemented a program that recognizes faculty, staff and students who demonstrate social and personal responsibility. To learn more: Middlesex: Core Commitment

Oakland Community College

Serving nearly 47,000 students on five campuses, Oakland Community College is the largest community college in Michigan. Since one-third of U.S. automotive manufacturing occurs within 70 miles of the county, the college is uniquely positioned to observe the effects of outsourcing, globalization, and economic uncertainty and realize its vision of an ethical, responsible citizenry. To accommodate the community's needs, OCC's Workforce Development unit has established several programs to provide job skills training to disadvantaged or displaced populations. During its participation in the Core Commitments Initiative, OCC expanded and nurtured a culture of personal and social responsibility through consensus-building among the faculty to define the nature and applicability of civic responsibility within the existing curriculum. To refine the assessment instruments for these goals, Oakland revised and improved their existing rubric for personal and social responsibility. These results, coupled with the input from other consortium members facilitated identification and improvement of Oakland's current initiatives.

Portland State University

The motto of Portland State University (PSU) is "Let Knowledge Serve the City." As this motto implies, personal and social responsibility are at the core of the institution's values. PSU is nationally recognized as a leader in general education reform, community-based learning, and civic engagement. Through participation in Core Commitments, the university targeted deficiencies at the junior level of the general education program and cultivated new relationships between faculty and student affairs professionals. Expansion of the Academic Innovation Mini-Grant (AIM), a faculty/staff learning community model for professional development, explicitly addressed the five dimensions of student personal and social responsibility. To learn more: Portland State University Center for Academic Excellence

Rollins College

As reflected in Rollins' quality enhancement plan (QEP) and mission, "educating for global citizenship and responsible leadership," Rollins College has been deeply committed to the Core Commitments goals. In addition to having a successful community engagement program and a "values and decision-making" required course for over twenty-five years, Rollins College wanted to expand the effectiveness and scope of its mission to educate for global citizenship and responsible leadership. During the Core Commitments initiative, Rollins 1) drafted a new Social Honor Code; 2) established a new Cultural Explorations graduation requirement; 3) launched the Purposeful Life program which encourages upperclassmen to define the important values and articulate their life goals, and 4) provided a full-time director to head the connect Greek life initiatives with a campus climate of personal responsibility.

Sacred Heart University

Rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition, Sacred Heart University is a co-educational, comprehensive liberal arts institution,which has worked steadily to educate men and women while instilling faith, compassion, social and ethical responsibility, and global awareness. This vision for undergraduate learning is imprinted in the university's mission statement and expressed in the newly designed core curriculum, Common Core: The Human Journey. Through Core Commitments, Sacred Heart University extended its vision for undergraduate learning by developing and implementing a university infrastructure and culture that connects the core curriculum and student life more broadly. Beginning with the University's living-learning community, the five dimensions of personal and social responsibility were integrated into the curriculum and co-curriculum across the university.

Saint Anselm College

Saint Anselm College's campus-wide initiative, Learning Liberty, began in the fall of 2003 and reinvigorated the school's mission as a Catholic liberal arts college in the Benedictine tradition. It was conceived as a response to a political and moral concern for the education of engaged citizens and an intellectual and spiritual concern for developing the curiosity and understanding that constitute liberty of the mind. Participation in Core Commitments addressed these concerns via three approaches. First, the goals for Curriculum and Pedagogy included a week-long, interdisciplinary faculty seminar on curricular changes as well as presentations on education, liberty, and civic life. Second, goals for Campus Life and Engagement included promoting Benedictine stewardship of the environment, incorporating academic and service components into student-led communities, and inviting students to organize Civic Engagement Workshops led by campus and community leaders. Third, goals for Student Voice included establishing essay contests focusing on the intersection of politics and higher learning, creating a student-administered honor code, and establishing a Special Assembly Forum for students, faculty, and staff to discuss immediate and significant events.

Saint Mary's College of California

Saint Mary's College of California is a Catholic liberal arts college and a Lasallian Christian Brothers institution founded in the tradition of the patron saint of teachers, Saint John Baptist De La Salle. As reflected in the mission statement, "a distinctive mark of a Lasallian school is its awareness of the consequences of economic and social injustice and its commitment to the poor," Saint Mary's aim is "to create a student-centered educational community whose members support one another with mutual understanding and respect." During their involvement in Core Commitments, Saint Mary's worked on three levels to improve campus-wide infrastructure: Community Leadership/Student Engagement, Curriculum Development, and New Institutional Strategies and Assessment.  Community Leadership/Student Engagement engaged students in campus-wide dialogue on social and civic responsibility. Based on these dialogues and the goals they outline, these dialogues supported student-driven action plans. Curriculum Development expanded existing social justice/community involvement programs across the curriculum and offered incentives for faculty to add social justice content to their courses in disciplines where such content is underrepresented.

St. Lawrence University

St. Lawrence University's commitment to the development of students' personal and social responsibilities is embodied through their strong programs in global and intercultural studies, residential education, civic engagement, and leadership. Through the Core Commitments initiative, however, St. Lawrence sought to foster greater attention to values and to civic responsibilities for active participation in social change. Through a new center for diversity and social justice, St. Lawrence planned to bridge the divide between academic and student affairs by integrating multicultural initiatives and education for citizenship, leadership, and democracy. The university offered three community-wide deliberative dialogues consisting of a series of sessions over the course of one semester. These would help to assess how well St. Lawrence's mission espouses engagement with issues of personal and social responsibility, as well as fostering a plural democratic praxis. To learn more: Core Commitments at St. Lawrence University

United States Air Force Academy

Fundamental to life at the United States Air Force Academy are the Air Force core values of "integrity first," "service before self," and "excellence in all we do." These values are remarkably similar to the first three Core Commitments dimensions of personal and social responsibility. Through its participation in this initiative, USAFA completed a comprehensive revision of its institutional learning outcomes, including several that are well-aligned with the remaining Core Commitments dimensions of "Taking seriously the perspectives of others" and "Ethical reasoning and action." In order to promote the development of responsibility outcomes, USAFA formed interdisciplinary "outcome teams" for each outcome.  Each team consists of faculty and staff from the core courses and programs (i.e., those in which all cadets participate) that have agreed to take primary responsibility for that outcome.  The Academy has also created the "Center for Character & Leadership Development,"  which advances the understanding, practice, and integration of character and leadership programs, and serves as a visible manifestation of USAFA's commitment to character and leadership. 

United States Military Academy

The mission of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point is "to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army." During the Core Commitments initiative, USMA's cadet development model, the Cadet Leader Development System (CLDS), became an integral part of the USMA's efforts to further integrate personal and social responsibility with the academy's curriculum.   Using the AAC&U 2008 Greater Expectations Summer Institute as an opportunity to allow members of the CLDS Committee offsite time to collaborate on their efforts, USMA synchronized the work of the domain teams, further integrated curricular experiences across the six domains, developed a comprehensive plan for the assessment of the CLDS domains, improved linkages for faculty development opportunities and rewards to CLDS, examined cadets' opportunities for self-reflection within the context of CLDS, and established community and campus partnerships that underscore curricular activities. 

University of Alabama at Birmingham

In 2007, the Ford Foundation awarded the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) a Difficult Dialogues grant. The award recognized that the quality enhancement plan (QEP) that UAB developed for its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaccreditation is a comprehensive and effective program that integrates academic instruction with diversity, respect for others, responsible dialogue, and ethical behavior. UAB continued this work during the Core Commitments initiative as academic affairs and student affairs collaborated to implement a two-part freshman experience that introduces thinking, learning, dialoguing, and decision-making skills: the UAB Discussion Book initiative and the freshman learning communities. Additionally, cumulative instruction and progressively challenging experiences in personal and social responsibility were integrated into mid-level classes and new capstone courses across every department.

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida (UCF), a metropolitan research university with more than 47,000 students, demonstrates significant activity in the five dimensions of personal and social responsibility. During the Core Commitments initiative, UCF's development goals involved creating innovative research initiatives to teach ethical principles and study ethical decision-making in Interactive Performance Lab (IPL)/Story Box scenarios; creating department/college-level ethics task force committees to complement the university ethics task force;, offering faculty development seminars to create course content; extending their existing academic integrity seminar as a strategy to enhance and encourage academic honesty among students; and expanding student participation in "ethics bowl" competitions in on-campus and regional venues to enhance and improve ethics education for personal and social responsibility. To learn more: Core Commitments at the University of Central Florida

University of the Pacific

Enrolling only 6,300 students, University of the Pacific is a doctoral university composed of nine Schools across three campuses in Northern California. Pacific's strategic plan Pacific Rising 2008-2015 reflects a fundamental commitment to promoting the goals of personal and social responsibility (PSR). Three of the six core values at Pacific are whole person education, responsible leadership, and community engagement. In the context of Pacific Rising and the Core Commitments initiative, Pacific is promoting PSR through its three required academic seminars in the general education program on the theme "What is a Good Society?"; through learning experiences that integrate development of emotional and social competencies into the curriculum, co-curriculum, and admissions; through an expanded role for peer advisors for first-year students; and through early exposures to institutional values of integrity and inclusiveness.

Wagner College

Wagner College emphasizes scholarship, achievement, leadership, and citizenship to accomplish its mission of preparing students for a meaningful life with successful careers. To facilitate experimental learning and civic engagement, they developed innovative programs such as the Wagner Plan and Civic Innovations. The AAC&U Core Commitments initiative provided an opportunity for Wagner focus on deepening students' personal and social responsibility through three approaches: Civic Innovations' Community-Connected Departments; Essential Co-Curricular Competencies; and the Emerging Leadership Conference. To measure their awareness of and commitment to personal and social responsibility, students in the Civic Innovations Initiative "Community Connected Department" courses completed two free writes with guided questions.  Additionally, every Wagner student is now required to choose 2 of 7 identified core competencies that must be met by graduation through public presentation, writing, or project work.  Each competency will have criteria and a rubric by which they can be peer reviewed. 

Winthrop University

Founded as a teacher preparation institution for women in 1886, Winthrop has since become a diverse, coeducational university committed to a liberal arts tradition that provides national caliber professional education and develops leadership and civic responsibility. Minorities constitute twenty-seven percent of Winthrop's student body, and among similar institutions, the university has one of the highest six-year graduation rates for African American males. As part of the Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, Winthrop infused the five dimensions of personal and social responsibility (PSR) throughout their signature Touchstone program by including them in the training for three of the four Touchstone courses.  To build assessments of personal and social responsibility into all program assessment strategies, the university worked with faculty to modify existing programs. Wintrhop's long-term goal is to develop a center for ethical leadership which reflects the five dimensions of PSR. To learn more: Core Commitments at Winthrop University