Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Educating for a Democracy in Question

How can colleges and universities educate students across disciplines to tackle longstanding and escalating threats to democracy’s health and future?

Higher education has for too long fulfilled its civic mission by offering relatively noncontroversial and apolitical experiences, too often for self-selecting students. What’s needed now is pervasive, cross-disciplinary learning that prepares all students to be stewards—active co-creators and designers—of democracy’s future.

Educating for a democracy in question presents challenges of content, depth, and scale. The goal is not to preserve democracy as it has been practiced, but instead to empower students, institutional leaders, faculty, staff, and others associated with higher education to co-create a more inclusive, equitable, and just democracy while simultaneously guarding against threats to the ideal.

Additional IDHE resources in this focus area are forthcoming.

Talk About It

Discussion Guide
Threats to Democracy
Naming problems can help advance efforts to address them through education. Based on focus groups with educators and representatives of democracy reform groups, this guide categorizes democracy’s threats and offers guiding questions for discussion.

Bring IDHE to Your Campus

Whether virtually or in person, IDHE can visit your campus to lead a workshop on facilitating politically charged discussions, join a classroom or coalition discussion of ideas for change, or help assess your campus climate for political learning and participation. Contact us at [email protected] and let us know how we can help.