Press Release

AAC&U Receives Grant from Lumina Foundation to Support Research on the Efficacy of Civic and Community-Based Engagement in Higher Education

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today that it has received a grant of $210,000 from Lumina Foundation to support the synthesis and development of national research on the role of higher education in fostering students’ civic skill-building through community-based engagement and other high-impact practices.

More than ever, initiatives undertaken to strengthen higher education as a public good must be driven by evidence,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “AAC&U is grateful to Lumina Foundation for supporting this much-needed effort to develop a shared evidence base to advance the civic purpose of higher education.”

The grant funding will support two strands of research on best practices for developing students’ civic skills. The first will produce a synthesis of the existing research on the set of active teaching and learning practices commonly known as “high-impact practices,” or HIPs. A primary focus of this research synthesis will be equity of access to and attainment of civic outcomes for underserved students related to engagement in HIPs, particularly community-based experiences, such as service learning, community-based research, global learning and study abroad, and internships.

The second strand will yield new national baselines on students’ demonstrated performance on civic outcomes developed through AAC&U’s Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) Institute. Fifteen campuses will be chosen through an open call for proposals to submit student work connected with civic outcomes through engagement in a range of HIPs. Resulting baselines will be further disaggregated to better understand and address equity gaps across civic skills, such as intercultural competence, global learning, and ethical reasoning.

“We are thrilled that AAC&U is taking on this work. Promoting democracy is a common goal of American higher education, but we have surprisingly little evidence on students’ actual civic learning and outcomes, particularly when it comes to students of color and the institutions that serve them,” said Terri Taylor, Strategy Director for Innovation and Discovery at Lumina Foundation. “Now is the time to examine what we know—and don’t know—about fostering all students’ ability to participate fully in democracy, strengthen communities, and resist authoritarianism.”

The project will culminate in the release of a summary report on findings and will include recommendations for how campuses and higher education, as a whole, can best support civic skill-building for all students.

About AAC&U

AAC&U is the leading national association dedicated to advancing the vitality and public standing of liberal education by making quality and equity the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,000 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, faculty, and staff engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Through a broad range of activities, AAC&U reinforces the collective commitment to liberal education at the national, local, and global levels. Its high-quality programs, publications, research, meetings, institutes, public outreach efforts, and campus-based projects help individual institutions ensure that the quality of student learning is central to their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

For more information, visit