JMU celebrates 20 years of the American Democracy Project

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HARRISONBURG, Va. – James Madison University is proud to join the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in celebrating the 20th anniversary of its nonpartisan American Democracy Project.

To highlight this special occasion, the AASCU is calling on its membership to recommit to the initiative’s guiding principles.

AASCU has championed the cause of civic engagement through the American Democracy Project, which was established in 2003 in partnership with The New York Times. The nonpartisan initiative has engaged thousands of campus leaders, faculty, staff, and students to equip college graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to be informed and engaged global citizens.

During the past 20 years of the American Democracy Project, nearly 300 AASCU campuses have collaborated on creating meaningful and engaging methods of preparing students to participate in a thriving democracy.

In honor of the anniversary, AASCU is calling on its member institutions to recommit to the principles of the American Democracy Project. Those principles include:

· Making civic learning and democratic engagement an expectation for every student.

· Integrating civic inquiry across the curriculum.

· Modeling open, democratic engagement from multiple perspectives.

· Fostering an ethos of civic mindedness.

· Advancing civic action through democratic processes and practices.

“At this pivotal juncture in our nation’s history, it’s vital that higher education continues to lead by example and advocate for the kind of democratic engagement and civic mindedness that embodies the American Democracy Project,” said Terry Brown, AASCU’s vice president of Academic Innovation and Transformation. “Whether it’s voting, promoting community dialogues, or developing the civic skills that promote critical thinking and action, American Democracy Project campuses reflect a commitment to nonpartisan initiatives that prepare students to lead and participate as global citizens within diverse societies.”

“College and university leaders are committed to advancing thoughtful and constructive dialogue rather than polarized debate,” said Cathy Copeland, American Democracy Project director. “By recommitting to the guiding principles of the American Democracy Project, we encourage information literacy, responsible stewardship of our nation’s resources, and relationships that acknowledge America’s commitment to a healthy global society.”

Key benefits for American Democracy Project campuses include access to an array of network of leaders, faculty, staff, and students, all of which foster collaborative research and resource-sharing opportunities. Additionally, the program offers regular gatherings such as the annual Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement meeting, professional development opportunities for leaders across all levels, and an extensive national partner network. Participating institutions also have the chance to engage in grant-funded national projects, workshops, and initiatives aligned with their missions.

To learn more about the American Democracy Project recommitment initiative and to see the growing list of institutions that have made the commitment, visit


Contact: Mary-Hope Vass, 


The American Association of State Colleges and Universities is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 350 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. Visit us at

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Published: Thursday, February 22, 2024

Last Updated: Friday, February 23, 2024

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