Democratic Engagement

Locating Academe Within the Ecosystem of Knowledge-Production*

In 2008, twenty-three leading thinkers and advocates for the democratic purposes of higher education held a discussion on the future of civic engagement in the academy. What emerged was the “Democratic Engagement Whitepaper“* which provides a clear description of the purposes and processes of democratic engagement.

  • Democratic engagement is explained in terms purpose and process. “The processes of engagement refer to the way in which those on campus – administrators, academics, staff, and students – relate to those outside the campus. Purpose refers to enhancing a public culture of democracy on and off campus and alleviating public problems through democratic means”
  • Democratic engagement is demonstrated both “by a capacity to learn the company of others and not to rely solely on the expertise of the academy…(and)by expertise in solving social problems that is sought by communities – but is critical of expertise that claims an exclusionary psoition relative to other forms of knowledge and other knowledge producers”.
  • Democratic partnerships havean explicit and intentional democratic dimension framed as inclusive, collaborative, and problem-oriented work in which academics share knowledge generating tasks with the public and involve community partners as participants in public problem-solving… (and inform) scholarly wsork that is conducted with shared authority and power with those in the community in all aspects of the relationship, from defining problems, choosing approaches, addressing issues, developing the final products, and participating in assessment”.


Areas of Focus:


The NJCC statewide membership, board of directors, numerous community and public agencies, and Campus Compact state office identified the specific actions that are being planned and undertaken in order to promote positive and lasting outcomes for communities and higher education alike. Check out our 2016 – 2020 Issues and Actions page for more.

Download the full report “Issues of our Time” by clicking on the image below.