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From the Editor: A Deep, Continuing Commitment to Diversity and Democracy
For the past twenty-four years (the first eleven as Diversity Digest), Diversity & Democracy has amplified the voices of higher education leaders and educators seeking to prepare students to become active, socially responsible world citizens. Nearly a quarter of a century later, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) remains firmly dedicated to civic learning and democratic engagement, global citizenship, and engagement with diversity. The association renewed its commitment to these principles in its recent publication, What Liberal Education Looks Like: What It Is, Who It’s For, and Where It Happens, which presents “an aspirational vision of liberal education that is centered on its potential to serve all our students and to renew our democracy.”
As AAC&U works to communicate its vision of liberal education more effectively and strategically, the association has decided to consolidate its three periodicals into a single magazine, which will be launched in fall 2020. The new Liberal Education magazine will fully integrate civic learning and democratic engagement, global citizenship, and engagement with diversity with AAC&U’s priorities of advancing liberal education and inclusive excellence, bringing these topics to a wider audience. Although I am sorry that this will be the last issue of Diversity & Democracy, I’m excited to work with my colleague Christen Aragoni as co-editors-in-chief of Liberal Education. Along with our talented team, we are developing a beautifully designed magazine with compelling content and high-quality writing and analysis. I can’t wait for you to see it.
This final issue of Diversity & Democracy addresses a topic at the core of our civic work: how to build civic-minded cultures in higher education institutions. As our deeply divided nation confronts the devastating effects of a global pandemic and accompanying economic crisis, along with the continuing destructive legacy of racial injustice, the need for such a civic-minded culture comes clearly into focus. We desperately need people who can work together across differences and national borders with mutual care and respect to address these overwhelming problems and work for positive change.
Colleges and universities provide excellent environments for constructing civic-minded cultures that cultivate graduates who bring civic values and practices into the wider society. Whether in person or online, colleges and universities bring together people with different life experiences, empowering them to care for each other as a community. By providing a liberal education that challenges learners to examine their own beliefs and engage with others different from themselves, colleges and universities can help to build a world where people see themselves as responsible for each other’s well-being and success, while recognizing that their different backgrounds and perspectives are an asset, not a liability.
In my three years as Diversity & Democracy’s editor, it has been my honor to help authors craft their messages of a vision of such a world and the work we need to do to make it a reality. I have been fortunate to work with a brilliant advisory board, who brought their wisdom and insights to our many dynamic conversations. It was a joy to have one more opportunity to work with senior editorial advisor Caryn McTighe Musil, who recently retired from AAC&U after nearly three decades, on the first article in this issue. Among her many accomplishments at AAC&U, Caryn was part of the team that launched Diversity Digest, and she served as its executive editor from 1998 to 2006. In addition, I am indebted to Ann Kammerer, who has skillfully designed Diversity & Democracy since the very beginning. I am thankful to my wonderful colleagues at AAC&U, past and present, especially those in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, who have brought their talents and dedication to our work every day. I thank all these colleagues for their friendship and collaboration.
And finally, I am grateful to you, the readers of Diversity & Democracy, for being with us in this work. I hope that this publication has inspired you to think more broadly about diversity, democracy, and global citizenship, and has helped you to bring a vision of a civic-minded and equitable culture closer to reality on your own campus. I am excited to continue this work with you through the new Liberal Education magazine.
Emily Schuster is editor of Diversity & Democracy, co-editor-in-chief of Liberal Education, and senior editor.