For Immediate Release

David Tritelli
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-888-0811 (office)
Caryn McTighe Musil
Senior Scholar and Director of Civic Learning and Democracy Initiatives

AAC&U Awards Twenty-Four Grants to Spur Civic Learning in Student Majors

Grant from The Endeavor Foundation Supports an AAC&U Signature Initiative, Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

May 21, 2018

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today the twenty-four departments from institutions across the country that received mini-grants to advance civic learning and social responsibility as expected dimensions within students’ majors. AAC&U received 134 mini-grant applications, indicating widespread interest in rethinking departmental disciplinary designs for learning, life, work, and citizenship.

“Educating for democracy is more critical than ever, and AAC&U is proud to support the departments and institutions receiving grants for their commitment to advancing liberal education in the major as a foundation for fostering civic engagement,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella.

AAC&U has argued that the health of our diverse democracy depends on higher education doing its full part in preparing students to be thoughtful, open-minded, informed, and responsible citizens and workers in their home communities, nation, and the world. “This group of departments is proof that educating for disciplinary knowledge and educating for democracy are not oppositional but mutually illuminating,” said Caryn McTighe Musil, Senior Scholar and Director of Civic Learning and Democracy Initiatives, who directs the project at AAC&U.

Supported by a grant from The Endeavor Foundation, the Civic Prompts: Civic Learning in the Major by Design initiative aims to limit the civic-free zones within departments. 

The twenty-four departments selected as The Endeavor Foundation grantees include: 

  • Alfred State College, State University of New York College of Technology (NY): Physical and Life Sciences
  • Bard College (NY): Division of Social Studies/Political Studies
  • Chapman University (CA): Integrated Educational Studies
  • College of the Canyons (CA): Civic and Community Engagement Initiative
  • Community College of Allegheny County, Boyce Campus (PA): Physical Therapist Assistant Program
  • Juniata College (PA): Psychology
  • Mercer University (GA): Department of Mathematics, Science, and Informatics
  • Northern Michigan University (MI): English
  • The Ohio State University (OH): Anthropology
  • The Sage Colleges (NY): Chemistry and Mathematics
  • Saint Mary’s College of California (CA): Communication
  • Simmons College (MA): Chemistry
  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland (MD): Environmental Studies
  • State University of New York College at Geneseo (NY): History
  • Southwest Tennessee Community College (TN): Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematics
  • University of Central Florida (FL): Art History
  • University of Central Florida (FL): History
  • University of Maryland, College Park (MD): College of Education
  • University of New Hampshire (NH): Communication
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC): Nursing
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro (NC): Communication Studies
  • University of Puerto Rico–Mayaguez Campus (PR): Engineering Sciences and Materials
  • University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (WI): Democracy and Justice Studies
  • Warren Wilson College (NC): Chemistry Department and Psychology Department

A Crucible Moment: Civic Learning and Democracy’s Future (2012) found that most civic-oriented study occurs in the first two years of students’ academic careers and then shrinks demonstrably as they pursue more concentrated academic study. It therefore calls on colleges and universities to “define within departments, programs, and disciplines the public purposes of their respective fields, the civic inquiries most urgent to explore, and the best way to infuse civic learning outcomes progressively across the major” (32).

AAC&U has developed resources to assist departments in integrating civic learning and social responsibility within majors. Among these resources is Civic Prompts: Making Civic Learning Routine across the Disciplines (2015) by Caryn McTighe Musil. Civic Prompts offers a process for faculty members and their colleagues to explore, on their own disciplinary terms, how to make civic learning customary. The “Civic Learning in the Major by Design” issue of Peer Review, AAC&U’s quarterly journal, includes nine civic-rich departmental designs, and the online case studies include twelve more examples. An AAC&U webinar on "Redesigning Majors" offers additional resources.

For more information about Civic Prompts: Civic Learning in the Major by Design, visit

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 1,400 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.

Information about AAC&U can be found at