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September 28, 2021

College Promise Joins Shared Commitment Pledge to Make Democracy Learning a Top Priority for Postsecondary Education

On September 28, College Promise joined forces with dozens of higher education and student success organizations to announce a “Shared Commitment” to make “Democracy Learning a Top Priority for Postsecondary Education.”

The Shared Commitment pledge was organized by Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement (CLDE). Founded by College Promise, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) and Complete College America (CCA), CLDE is working in partnership with civic learning organizations and initiatives across the U.S.

Urging “equity-committed civic learning,” the “Shared Commitment” signatories call for civic inquiry, practice in civil discourse, and collaborative work on real-world public problems to be part of each postsecondary student’s educational pathway.

At College Promise, as we work to make a college education as universal, free, and accessible as high school, we urge all postsecondary institutions to incorporate civic learning and engagement opportunities in every course throughout all fields of study – from English to Advanced Manufacturing.

Why does this matter to College Promise?

Because connecting students to learning about and taking action to solve the most pressing problems affecting their communities, their states, and our nation will help create the engaged citizenry that drives the innovation and sustainability of our dynamic and inclusive democracy.

We celebrate the Promise postsecondary institutions and K-12 schools that have already taken action to provide civic learning and democracy engagement opportunities for their students. Cultivating those intentional partnerships between students, local and state governments, and nonprofit organizations are positively associated with “practical learning gains” for students.

CLDE builds from the revival of civic learning already spreading across K-12 and hundreds of postsecondary institutions, spurred by the work of many educational organizations that endorsed the Shared Commitment statement.

“These efforts are a strong beginning, but much more is needed to make democracy learning expected, rather than possible, for postsecondary students,” said leaders of the organizations that joined the “Shared Commitment“ pledge.

However, CLDE leaders noted that students from underserved communities are often the least likely to take part in programs and courses that help engage them with urgent public problems.

The CLDE coalition will work on four goals to engage college students with democracy’s future:  

  • Quality and Equity: Build commitment and capacity—across postsecondary education—to make civic learning and democracy engagement an expected part of a quality college education for all college students, with equitable participation by students from underserved communities a top priority.
  • Democracy Engagement: Engage students with democracy’s history, present and future in a diverse United States, in U.S. communities still struggling to reverse inherited disparities, and in a globally interdependent world where authoritarianism is on the rise.
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving: Prepare each postsecondary student, through creative combinations of general education, arts and sciences studies, and career-related studies, to work directly on selected public problems that society needs to solve—e.g., problems in racial healing, health, education, housing, climate, digital access, human rights, justice systems, interfaith cooperation, and more.  
  • Policy Commitment: Secure policy support for a robust public investment in the goals listed above.

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