Imagining America is pleased to endorse Election Imperatives: Ten Recommendations to Increase College Student Voting and Improve Political Learning and Engagement in Democracy, a new report by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, based at Tufts University. The report is informed by the Institute’s research on voting among college students. It urges college leadership to empower students, faculty and staff to create opportunities for political engagement and civic education throughout the year, both inside and outside the classroom. The recommendations in the report are complemented by an online toolkit and resource guide that offer useful examples of innovative civic and political initiatives.
IA leadership enthusiastically supports the report’s focus on encouraging electoral politics as a core component of a broader and inclusive organizing strategy for civic education and social change. We are proud that our host campus, UC Davis, ranks in the top 10 schools in the Washington Monthly campus rankings, which rates schools on three equally weighted criteria: research, social mobility and public service. New to the ranking this year is a measure for voting engagement, which looks at a school’s efforts in encouraging civic engagement, for which UC Davis received the highest number of points available, and the highest among the UC campuses.
Building on the report’s recommendations, Imagining America especially encourages students, staff, and faculty to consider ways that higher education can learn from and support community-based political initiatives. We also encourage civic education and action to include the history of disenfranchisement and the current ways that political and voting rights are restricted. Not mentioned in the Election Imperatives report but central to IA’s commitments to full participation in democratic engagement, we also encourage campus leaders to find ways to strengthen the voices and participation of international students and residents who do not have voting rights. Alongside the act of voting, we support, lift and encourage cultural and arts-based initiatives that play central roles in changing public narratives and in movement-building on the most pressing issues of our time. Political learning and engagement is an area we will continue to support and deepen and look forward to continuing the conversation at the Imagining America National Gathering in Chicago.