The International Consortium works in collaboration with the Council of Europe’s Committee on Education and its program on Education for Democracy. It conducts research on what colleges and universities do to promote democratic citizenship, organizes exchanges of ideas in publications and conferences, and develops educational materials for democratic education. Education for democracy includes student participation in community and national life, democratic self-governance of colleges and universities, out of class student life, and the stated commitment of institutions of higher education to promote and exemplify democratic culture, human rights, and citizenship.
Begun by an undergraduate research seminar at the University of Pennsylvania, colleagues from across the country are invited to join the Democracy Project. Several universities have already adapted the seminar and used its survey instruments to further understand the impact of undergraduate education on the civic development of their students.
The “Universities as Sites” research project was undertaken beginning in 1999 by European and U.S. researchers. It originated with the Council of Europe’s project on Education for Democratic Citizenship, and major policy initiatives outlines in the “Budapest Declaration for a Greater Europe Without Dividing Lines” adopted in May 1999. The CoE’s Committee on Higher Education and Research developed an outline of the project. This work greatly interested American colleagues, given the civic engagement movement in the US, as highlighted by the “Presidents’ Fourth of July Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education” adopted at a presidential leadership forum sponsored by Campus Compact. U.S. and European working groups were established to develop the methodology and protocols for the research. Fourteen European and fifteen U.S. universities completed the pilot study.