Toolkit Resources


Civic Institutional Matrix: Assessing Assets and Gaps in a Civic-Minded Institution

This Civic Institutional Matrix is designed to help you map your institution’s overall commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement, on and off campus, whether locally or globally situated. We invite campus leaders to form a team of key stakeholders to complete the matrix together on behalf of their institutions. We recommend identifying stakeholders who are diverse both positionally within the institution and in terms of perspectives and backgrounds. Overall, the group’s sphere of influence should be broad, reaching across the curriculum, cocurriculum, and beyond the campus borders, and should meaningfully involve students and community partners. As you work together to fill in the matrix, think of yourselves as your institution’s cartographers, mapping how your institution evidences its core values related to civic learning and democratic engagement. 

Matrix Elements

The matrix included here consists of a 4 x 6 grid reflecting essential dimensions of a civic-minded institution and key domains of institutional functioning and culture. For a more detailed matrix broken out by each of the four dimensions of civic-mindedness, visit

Horizontal Axis: Four Dimensions of a Civic-Minded Institution
As team members fill in the matrix, we invite you to review the descriptions of the four dimensions of a civic-minded institution—civic ethos, civic literacy, civic inquiry, and civic action—and to expand upon and refine these descriptions. As a group, you may also want to identify other important dimensions that are pertinent for your institution.

Vertical Axis: Domains of Institutional Functioning and Culture
The matrix identifies six domains. You might find it more strategic and relevant to formulate other domains such as scholarly activities, evaluation and assessment, or policies and procedures. Mapping civic learning and democratic engagement across these domains should help you determine where your institution has assets and gaps.

Rating Box: The Degree of Pervasiveness of Campus Efforts
The matrix asks you to consider two mutually reinforcing aspects of institutional pervasiveness—breadth and depth. Breadth describes the degree to which efforts are present and connected throughout the institution. Depth captures the degree to which efforts are embedded vs. superficial. Significant breadth and depth would be demonstrated by effective, sustainable, and comprehensive institutionalization of programs, policies, and procedures that support civic learning and democratic engagement.

Completing the Matrix

As a group, map your institution's commitment to civic learning and As a group, map your institution's commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement. Use sources of knowledge readily available: the experience of team members, information in catalogues and on your institution's website, existing institutional data, etc. Use the space in the boxes provided to summarize and highlight programs, policies, and initiatives that fall into specific domains of institutional functioning and culture and dimensions of civic learning and democratic engagement (e.g. major-specific capstone courses that raise civic questions realated to the discipline would be listed under the domain of majors and under Dimension 3: Civic Inquiry). The rating boxes allow you to indicate the degree of pervasiveness for each domain across the four dimensions. Use the following scale to fill in these boxes: Low (L) = little breadth and depth (i.e., isolated and surface-level efforts to implement civic learning and democratic engagement); Medium (M) = some breadth and/or some depth; and High (H) = strong breadth and strong depth (i.e., integrated and embedded efforts to foster civic learning and democratic engagement).