Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity Digest Volume 7, Numbers 1 & 2

Diversity Digest
Volume 7, Numbers 1 & 2
(July 2003)

Download our print issue (PDF)
Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good: Contributing to the Practice of Democracy
Tribal Colleges and Universities: Guided by Tribal Values
Commitment to Diversity in Institutional Mission Statements
Valuing Equity: Recognizing the Rights of the LGBT Community
Creating Border Crossings: Dickinson College at Home and Abroad
Prejudice Across America: A Nationwide Trek
The Accountability Side of Diversity
Percent Plans: How Successful Are They?
Campus Life for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People
Multimedia, Books and Conferences
The E Pluribus Unum Project

Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good: Contributing to the Practice of Democracy

By John Burkhardt, director, and Tony Chambers, associate director, Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good

National Leadership Dialogue participants at Ann Arbor National Summit

The work of the Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good is guided by this key belief: higher education has the potential to be a defining institution within societies, but only if it understands the importance of its role as an independent, creative, and activist force.

Founded in 2000 at the University of Michigan, The Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good has worked to increase significantly awareness, understanding, commitment, and action relative to the public service role of higher education in the United States. Funded with initial support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Forum operates on the basis of a social marketing model for promoting transformational change in higher education and society.

What We Believe
Our research, conducted using national opinion surveys and focus groups, suggests the general public--including college graduates, parents of college students, and students themselves--have little understanding of a role for higher education that goes beyond its economic contributions. The motivation to attend college has been cultivated as an individual investment, one that will be generally repaid in increased lifetime earnings. Broader benefits to society are often described solely in material terms in the way of jobs, technology transfer, and economic development. We--that is, we in higher education--have done much to cultivate this limited understanding of higher education's benefits and societal contributions.

This minimalist transactional view of the academy has protected and advanced colleges and universities in many ways, but it comes at the expense of a larger role in society's broader transformation. It also avoids confronting the challenging ideal of constructing a pluralistic democracy that is equitable and just. Compared to the things we do that provide transactional value, the responsibility to provide transforming civic leadership is quite a bit more difficult.

What We Do
The Forum seeks to align and amplify the efforts of scholars, teachers, practitioners, and students, as well as partners outside the system of higher education, whose work is directed toward achieving the public service mission of higher education.

National Leadership Dialogue participants at Wye River, Maryland

The Forum's initial strategy to accomplish this goal has been to convene, connect, and support leaders within and outside of higher education who have committed to higher education's role in accomplishing public purposes and to assist them in working together to define the concept of the "public good" in a contemporary society. We have hosted several National Leadership Dialogues with college presidents, state legislators, faculty, researchers, non-profit organization leaders and many others in Maryland, California, Minnesota, and Michigan over the past year to facilitate strong collaborations and a common agenda. To further a collective commitment to the common agenda, we are planning a Wingspread Conference in the fall of 2003. The Wingspread Conference will synthesize conversations and disseminate the common agenda.

Secondly, the Forum seeks to expand, deepen and promote the application of scholarship that will lead to a clearer understanding of the public service role of U.S. colleges and universities. This strategy has led the Forum to support scholarship in key areas that promote better understanding of how higher education can, and currently does, serve the public good; and connect that scholarship to practice through the formation of targeted "research-practice" syndicates.

Critical to this objective and consistent with the long-term orientation of the larger Forum agenda, the Forum is working to inspire a new generation of higher education scholars focused on the public service role of colleges and universities. Through our Intergenerational Scholars Network, we are supporting the work of new scholars and facilitating mentor relationships between senior and junior scholars.

Our National Rising Scholars Award is designed for pre-tenured faculty, early career practitioners, and advanced graduate students in any discipline who engage in research that explores higher education's role in serving the public good. We began this scholarship program in 2002.

Thirdly, the Forum is working to enhance the level of understanding within the general public about the contributions higher education makes to the improvement of our lives, the defense of our freedoms, and the practice of democracy in a diverse society. While even attracting public attention, let alone changing perspectives is a difficult undertaking, the forum is focusing informational efforts on influential intermediary representatives for the public, especially legislators and trustees, as well as reaching out to the public at large. Additionally, we have developed partnerships with key professional associations that represent higher education and strategic policy groups that provide representation and leadership for higher education.

The Kellogg Forum is invigorated by its work and is always seeking ways to refocus attention to higher education's civic mission. We believe that we must work to restore public understanding of why college matters--not only to students and their families, but to all of society. We must raise the awareness of that essential principle, even as we try to promote greater expectations for our selves, our students, and the society that we together will create.

For further information about the Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, see www.kelloggforum.org.

Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Diversity & Democracy should be directed to Kathryn Peltier Campbell at campbell@aacu.org.
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