The American Democracy Project

American Democracty logoWelcome to the American Democracy Project (ADP) developed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in collaboration with the New York Times.

The American Democracy Project is a multi-campus initiative that seeks to create an intellectual and experiential understanding of civic engagement for undergraduates enrolled at institutions that are members of AASCU.  The goal of the project is to produce graduates who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful actions as citizens in a democracy.

The national project is directed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities: a project co-director comes from The New York Times.  Direction and support comes from a group of presidents and chancellors that serve on the AASCU Committee on the Undergraduate Experience; operational guidance come from a group of chief academic officers who serve as the Implementation Committee.  The project is assisted by a number of colleagues that work in civic engagement and related fields who serve on an Advisory Committee.

Project Goals

The ADP Project focuses on undergraduates enrolled at institutions that are Members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).  The project grows out of a concern about decreasing rates of Participation in the civic life of America in voting, in advocacy, in local grassroots associations, and in other forms of civic engagement that are necessary for the vitality of our democracy.   The goals of the project are

  • to increase the number of undergraduate students who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful civic actions by asking participating institutions to review and restructure academic programs and processes, extracurricular programs an activities, and the institutional culture;
  • to focus the attention of policy makers and opinion leaders on the civic value of the college experience.

What Is Civic Engagement?

The American Democracy Project uses the definition of civic engagement proposed by Thomas Ehrlich and his colleagues in Civic Responsibility and Higher Education:

Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference.  It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” (Preface, page vi)

“A morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member
of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.”  (Introduction, page xxvi).

Purdy, J. (2003)  “Suspicious Minds”. The Atlantic Monthly. January/February 2003.

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