Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Campus-Community Involvement
Diversity Digest Volume 9, Number 2

Diversity Digest
Volume 10,
Number 1

Download our print issue (PDF)
Campus-Community Involvement
Student Leadership: Making a Difference in the World
Access to Education, Opportunity to Serve
Berea College: Learning, Labor, and Service
A Developmental and Capacity-Building Model for Community Partnerships
The Power of a Sustained Relationship between Community Partners and Colleges and Universities
Faculty Involvement
Prequel to Civic Engagement: An African American Studies Research Seminar
Service Learning and Policy Change
Facilitating Student Growth as Citizens: A Developmental Model for Community-Engaged Learning
Student Experience
An Intentional and Comprehensive Student Development Model
Bonner: More Than a Model, a Lived Experience
Relationships First
Commitment to a Cause
Institutional Leadership
Preparing to Serve
Checklist from the President’s Chair
Curricular Transformation
LifeWorks and the Commons: A Model for General Education
The Case for Studying Poverty
Engaging with Difference Matters: Longitudinal Outcomes of the Cocurricular Bonner Scholars Program
Resources for Civic Engagement
Serving, Voting, and Speaking Out: Bonner Students Reflect on Civic Engagement

Student Leadership: Making a Difference in the World

By Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives, AAC&U

Tom Dasher, provost of Berry College in Georgia, was the matchmaker. His institution had been an active member of the Bonner Scholars Program. As a designated Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Berry campus representative, he was also deeply engaged with AAC&U’s work. Understanding that both entities shared fundamental goals, Tom arranged a lunch where Wayne Meisel, the charismatic president of the Bonner Foundation, and I could meet. That lunch marked the beginning of what has evolved into a partnership between the two organizations. This issue of Diversity Digest is one result of that partnership.

AAC&U works on issues of access, student development, and community service learning similar to those that distinguish the Bonner Scholars Program and the Bonner Leader Program. The values that undergird Bonner’s programs and goals also resonate deeply with AAC&U’s vision of a contemporary twenty-first-century liberal education: civic engagement, global perspectives, social justice, diversity, and spiritual exploration. AAC&U’s interest in a partnership with Bonner was further sparked when we learned of Bonner’s work on curricular student development and global perspectives, funded in part through a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education grant.

The Bonner Foundation asks institutions to commit to a tripartite investment in student development, campus–community partnerships, and institutional infrastructure. In so doing, Bonner echoes AAC&U’s Greater Expectations report, which asks colleges and universities to align fundamental educational and civic goals of college with intentional, transparent, and developmentally designed structures and opportunities.

AAC&U also admires how the Bonner Foundation weds access and assets. The foundation awards its multiyear service-based scholarships according to financial need, but it also stresses the personal and academic assets that Bonner scholars bring to individual campuses—and eventually to society as a whole. A similar framework governs the scholars’ engagement with communities through programs that demonstrate how communities are asset rich, even if they are economically poor.

Finally, Bonner and AAC&U share one other core commitment. They both realize that higher education can and must graduate students who are empowered by what they learn. It is not simply a matter of acquiring knowledge across many disciplines or developing capacities across key skill areas. Students must also believe that their actions matter as they apply that knowledge to everyday life. Cheryl Keen’s excellent research, which focuses on students’ perception of how the Bonner Scholars Program has influenced them, shows that 91.9 percent of seniors surveyed in 2000 ranked “a sense that you can make a difference” at the top of the list. The world needs higher education to produce many more similarly informed, empowered, and socially responsible citizens.

Questions, comments, and suggested resources should be directed to campbell@aacu.org.
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