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Civic engagement is essential to a democratic society, but far too many Americans have withdrawn from participation in public affairs. Higher education can contribute to civic engagement, but most research universities do not perceive themselves as part of the problem or of its solution. Whereas universities were once centrally concerned with "education for democracy" and "knowledge for society," today's institutions have often drifted away from their civic mission.


This document is the result of collaboration by participants at a Wingspread conference involving university presidents, provosts, deans, and faculty members with extensive experience in higher education as well as representatives of professional associations, private foundations, and civic organizations. The purpose of the conference was to formulate strategies for renewing the civic mission of the research university, both by preparing students for responsible citizenship in a diverse democracy, and also by engaging faculty members to develop and utilize knowledge for the improvement of society.