Universities as Sites of Citizenship and Civic Responsibility



Project Description and History

“Universities as Sites of Citizenship and Civic Responsibility” was a global research project of the International Consortium on Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy and the Council of Europe (CoE) conducted between 1999 and 2001.

The study explored the actual activities of institutions of higher education that support democratic values and practices, assesses their capabilities to promote democracy, and examines how university resources can improve the contributions of higher education to democracy on the campus, and in the local community and wider societies.  The study was conducted by approximately 15 U.S. and 13 European colleges and universities, five in South Africa, eight in Australia, and ten in Korea.

The University of Pennsylvania served as the organizational center for the Universities as Sites of Citizenship and Civic Responsibility Project.

The general academic contributions of this empirical study included:

  • a serious examination of a core institution shaping democratic development
  • an empirical basis for developing theories of democratic development in the global era
  • instruments for assessing, understanding, and increasing the levels of civic responsibility in different societies
  • and analysis for understanding the relationships among higher education, democratic schooling, and democratic societies

The pilot phase of the research was supported by of the Council of Europe and the U.S. National Science Foundation under the auspices of the International Consortium on Higher Education, Civic Education and Democracy. At the time, the U.S. members of the Consortium were the American Association of Higher Education, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Council for Higher Education, and Campus Compact. The Council of Ministers and Standing Conference of the European Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe endorsed this project. South Africa joined the Consortium in 2000 through the Community Higher Education Service Partnership of the Joint Education Trust.


“Beyond Rhetoric: University-Community Engagement in Victoria” (PDF)
by Alexandra Winter, John Wiseman, and Bruce Muirhead

About the Pilot Study




For additional reports, including selected monographs of participating universities, please contact the International Consortium office.