Civic Learning

In this turbulent and dynamic century, our nation’s diverse democracy and interdependent global community require a more informed, engaged, and socially responsible citizenry. Both educators and employers agree that personal and social responsibility should be core elements of a 21st century college education if our world is to thrive.  Currently such learning is optional for some college students rather than expected of all. A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future (2012) describes what a civic-minded institution looks like, how campuses can advance this vision across domains, and what pathways have already been forged by pioneering campuses. Civic Prompts (2015) shows how every discipline can do its part. 


Political Learning and Democratic Engagement: Learn-Engage-Vote
A budding list of websites, publications, and organizations to help you meet the political learning and democratic engagement goals on your campus

Civic Learning in the Major by Design
The Peer Review volume highlighting how nine departments have invested in these redesigns
The online case studies from twelve departments highlighting these redesigns

Archived Webinars:
Civic Prompts in the Major: Disciplinary Knowledge, Democratic Culture, and the Public Good
held on Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Redesigning Majors: Disciplinary Knowledge, Civic Learning, and Public Responsibility 
held on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

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.
Link to Video Series
Link for more Information

With funding from The Endeavor Foundation, AAC&U launched a new project, Civic Prompts: Civic Learning in the Major by Design to highlight different departmental and disciplinary designs that incorporate learning for civic and social responsibility into the requirements and pedagogy of a student’s major or area of specialized study. With a broad invitation to colleges and universities, AAC&U asked colleges and universities to submit exemplary departments that illustrate how the practice of applying a civic lens can be embedded as a routine way of preparing students in their majors.  Nine institutions are featured in a special theme-focused issue of Peer Review and twelve institutions are featured case studies on AAC&U’s website.  In addition, the American Political Science Association offers a pioneering disciplinary model with its volume, Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen.

Through a National Endowment for the Humanities initiative, AAC&U partnered with The Democracy Commitment on a project called Citizenship Under Siege.  In that grant seven participating community colleges explored in their local contexts what it means to experience citizenship as partial, denied, or fully acknowledged.  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 difference, the project produced three webinars called Clashes Over Citizenship: Promoting Listening, Learning, and Engagement. More on the webinars and links to the archived presentations and resources can be found here. Featuring the efforts of project participants and educators engaged in similar work, the Citizenship Under Siege Humanities in the Public Square issue of Diversity & Democracy illustrates the potential of the humanities to illuminate issues of identity and belonging.

Democratic engagement also requires students’ political participation as the special issue of Diversity & Democracy suggests in Student and Institutional Engagement in Political Life. Through projects, publications, and collaborations, AAC&U builds national awareness of civic learning and social responsibility so essential for life, work, and citizenship.

Campus Models and Case Studies

Every Campus a Refuge: Guilford College's Powerful Effort to Help Refugees Resettle

Every Campus a Refuge: Guilford College's Powerful Effort to Help Refugees Resettle

The woods west of Greensboro, North Carolina, have been a place of refuge for nearly two hundred years. Nearby Quaker communities would help slaves hiding there and smuggle them out to continue their... Read More

Civic Learning in the Major: Fusing Academic Disciplines and Community Engagement

Facing today’s most urgent challenges takes more than disciplinary knowledge. It takes good citizens. To prepare students for their future roles as leaders, humanitarians, and innovators, academic... Read More

High-Impact Taxonomies: Designing Faculty Development Tools at IUPUI

Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has a long and successful history of using high-impact practices (HIPs) to engage students inside and outside the classroom. National... Read More

Introducing the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Centers

On January 19–23, 2018, more than one hundred faculty, staff, and students from the first ten Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers and nineteen visiting institutions... Read More

Building Community Partnerships for Ethical Global Engagement

Each semester, global learning educators set out to change the way their students see the world. “I tell my students, one of my goals is to disturb you for the rest of your life—in the best sense,”... Read More