Bringing It

Bringing It #71: Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement

September 28, 2021

Dear Friends,

We are delighted to devote this number of Bringing It to BT2P’s participation in an important campaign for civic learning and democracy engagement in higher education. Today, in concert with many other friends and allies across higher ed, we are announcing the launch of this mobilization and our enthusiastic support for it. We urge you to support this national effort, described in the statement below, and to join us in signing the Shared Commitments pledge to which this statement is linked.

At this time of turmoil in the academy and our country, recommitting higher education to civic learning and democratic engagement could not be more important. BT2P is proud to be part of this national alliance, and we hope you will join us.

Leading Higher Education Organizations Mobilize to Engage All College Students in Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement (CLDE)

Bringing Theory to Practice (BT2P) today 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.”

Democracy faces monumental challenges in the U.S. and world-wide. And in this pivotal era, a “Shared Commitment” calls on the higher education community to take concerted action to help build Americans’ readiness to tackle urgent public problems, together.

In advancing this call for “equity-committed civic learning,” the signatories of the “Shared Commitment” statement seek to put civic inquiry, practice in civil discourse, and collaborative work on real-world public problems at the heart of every postsecondary student’s educational pathway.

Bringing Theory to Practice is proud to be an original signatory of the Shared Commitments pledge,” commented Director David Scobey. “We are passionate in our belief that civic learning and democratic engagement are core purposes of college education for all students, whatever and wherever they study. Our grants and projects have long supported community and civic engagement on many campuses, and we’re excited to be part of this national campaign.”

The Shared Commitment pledge was organized by the Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement (CLDE). Founded by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), Complete College America (CCA) and College Promise, CLDE is working in partnership with civic learning organizations and initiatives across the U.S. It builds on the movement for civic learning already spreading across K-12 and higher education, spurred by the work of many educational organizations that have endorsed the Shared Commitment statement.

CLDE seeks to expand the national debate on the mission of higher education from its insufficient focus on skills and short-term training to a larger concern with all college students’ civic, historical, global, and intercultural knowledge. It has a particular commitment to ensuring that students from underserved communities gain full access to programs and courses that support their desire to work on urgent public problems and issues of social justice.

The signatories of the “Shared Commitment” pledge represent a wide range of educational leaders. In addition to civic engagement advocates like BT2P, they include several state higher-ed systems and the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditor that has made civic engagement a criterion for the 967 institutions it accredits.

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: Engagement of 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 this 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 and robust public investment in the goals listed above.

To learn about BT2P’s efforts on civic learning and democracy engagement, visit for more details about projects we’ve supported that connect civic and community work with undergraduate education – and to read essays and articles we have published on civic engagement, community partnerships, and education for citizenship.

To sign the Shared Commitment statement, join the CLDE movement, and share your own work toward the CLDE goals, visit

With gratitude for everything you do,
David, Kate, Kelly, & Todd