Political Learning and Democratic Engagement: Learn-Engage-Vote

A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future calls on higher education and its stakeholders to embrace civic learning and democratic engagement as an undisputed educational priority for all students in every college, public and private, two-year and four-year. Discovering political agency and organizing collective action comprise new dimensions of a more comprehensive 21st century definition of education for responsible citizenship.

Elections offer a real-world stage to learn, engage, and vote. Colleges and universities should be actively designing ways to maximize learning about issues, to spawn inquiring dialogues across multiple perspectives, and to discover the history and current struggles for full and equal enfranchisement. AAC&U is excited to join with others to endorse Election Imperatives produced by the Institute on Democracy and Higher Education, which offers ten research-driven recommendations to increase student voting while also enhancing campus climates for political learning.

In a country with wide political divides, college campuses can and should model what enacting democracy using democratic principles and practices can look like where facts and evidence are sought and valued, all voices are heard and votes counted, and people can constructively disagree and work together to achieve shared public good. We offer this budding list of resources and organizations to help you meet the political learning and democratic engagement goals on your campus.

What classroom content, pedagogy, and projects cultivate collective political and civic engagement across differences to achieve shared goals and enhance civic and information literacy to discern facts from fictions? What contemporary issues challenge equal access to democratic processes and voice? What factors contribute to a campus wide climate of constructive political engagement?

Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U)
Civic Learning in the Major by Design: Peer Review and Online Case Studies
This project offers the first glimpse of how several departments have structured the design, expectations, and experiences for all their majors to achieve greater civic impact while deepening students’ learning in the discipline.

Student and Institutional Engagement in Political Life
This issue of Diversity & Democracycalls readers to examine how they can best support student and institutional engagement in political life.

American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)
American Democracy Project’s Digital Polarization Initiative
The Digital Polarization Initiative, or “DigiPo”, builds student civic, information and web literacy by having students participate in a broad, cross-institutional project to fact-check, annotate, and provide context to the different news stories that show up in Twitter and Facebook feeds.

American Political Science Association (APSA)
Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines (2017)
This book evaluates the goals, challenges, and rewards of integrating civic education into the curriculum, highlighting best practices across disciplines and campuses.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
The Brennan Center for Justice is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that works to reform, revitalize – and when necessary, defend – our country's systems of democracy and justice.

The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE)
The IDHE, part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, serves as a leading venue for research, resources, and advocacy on college student political learning and engagement in democratic practice.
Politics 365: Fostering Campus Climates for Student Political Learning & Engagement

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy (2018)
This consensus study report examines the challenges arising out of the 2016 federal election, assesses current technology and standards for voting, and recommends steps that the federal government, state and local governments, election administrators, and vendors of voting technology should take to improve the security of election infrastructure. In doing so, the report provides a vision of voting that is more secure, accessible, reliable, and verifiable.
Interactive Overview of Report Findings
Video: Future of Voting

Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA)
Effective Strategies for Supporting Student Civic Engagement (2018)
This brief offers examples of effective strategies for student affairs educators in supporting student activism movements on college and university campuses.

Graduating Students into Voters: Overcoming the Psychological Barriers Faced by Student Voters (2017)
This brief has two sections: one discussing common barriers to voting, and one identifying solutions.

What are best practices for engaging controversial issues in illuminating and positive ways? For sustaining constructive and informative dialogues? For organizing instructive forums and debates? For generating excitement about political questions? For drawing upon democratic processes that invite voice, listening, and learning?

Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U)
Clashes Over Citizenship: Webinar Series on Promoting Listening, Learning, and Engagement
This series of three webinars aim to expand campus expertise on how to hold constructive conversations about contentious issues and how to institute practices in and out of the classroom that foster engagement across differences.

Campus Compact
Education for Democracy
Education for Democracy is an important new non-partisan initiative designed to help heal and reinvigorate our democracy.

Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP)
This is a national nonpartisan project that helps administrators, faculty, staff, and student leaders at America’s colleges and universities engage students in federal, state, and local elections.

The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
This is a network of innovators who bring people together across divides to tackle today’s toughest challenges.

National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD)’s National Civility Network (NCN)
This network is comprised of institutes and centers committed to a more robust democracy through programs both on campus and in the broader society.

National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI)
This is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that serves to promote public deliberation about difficult public issues.

How and where do students register to vote? What specific steps have proven effective in increasing student voting so the percent can top the 18% of college students who voted in the last mid-term election? Why does voting matter? How can everyone contribute to giving as full and expansive access to voting as possible now and in the future? Who has research on voting patterns and what influences them?

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge
This national awards program encourages institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship. ALL IN to Vote can be used to demystify the voting process. While it is designed for college students, with first-time voters in mind, it can be used by anyone.

The Andrew Goodman Foundation
The Andrew Goodman Foundation works to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy.

Campus Vote Project (CVP)
CVP works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)
CIRCLE conducts and shares research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans

National Voter Registration Day
This website describes this national holiday celebrating our democracy which will be held on September 27, 2018, the fourth Tuesday of September.

Rock the Vote
This nonpartisan nonprofit organization is dedicated to building the political power of young people.

Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV)
This coalition promotes civic learning and engagement on campuses across the country by providing a series of key steps and information on best practices that institutions can use to create a more voter friendly campus.
Strengthening American Democracy: A Guide for Developing an Action Plan to Increase Civic Learning, Political Engagement, and Voting Rates Among College Students
Campus-wide civic engagement plans from schools who have agreed to share their plan

TurboVote, hosted by Democracy Works, is an application that makes voting easy for students by sending text and email reminders about registration deadlines, upcoming elections, and more.

Voting and Elections
This is the official website of the United States government.

Launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) in October of 2006, this website project provides nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information on various aspects of the election process.

Voting Data

National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE)
NSLVE offers colleges and universities an opportunity to learn their student registration and voting rates and, for interested campuses, a closer examination of their campus climate for political learning and engagement and correlations between specific student learning experiences and voting.

The RAYSE Index (Reaching All Youth Strengthens Engagement)
This index embodies CIRCLE's vision that research data can and should enhance the quantity, equality, and impact of youth civic engagement. The RAYSE Index is designed to facilitate program and outreach investment decisions (time, money, or people) at the county level.

35th National Youth Poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School
This poll examines the political opinions and civic engagement of young Americans ages 18 to 29 providing a comprehensive look at the political opinions, voting trends, and views on public service held by young Americans.