Shauna McQuade 301-784-5154


Students representing Choose Civility


Civic Learning Board




ACM Joins with Leading Higher Education Organizations to Engage All College Students in Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement


CUMBERLAND, Md. (Aug. 23, 2022) - Allegany College of Maryland has joined forces with dozens of higher education and student success organizations to announce a “Shared Commitment” to make “Democracy Learning a Top Priority for Postsecondary Education.”

Democracy faces monumental challenges in the U.S. and world-wide. And in this pivotal era, “Shared Commitment’ calls on the higher education community to take concerted action to help build Americans’ readiness to tackle urgent public problems, together.

Urging “equity-committed civic learning,” the “Shared Commitment” signatories call for civic inquiry, practice in civil discourse, and collaborative work on real-world public problems to be part of each postsecondary student’s educational pathway. 

“Allegany College of Maryland prides itself in being recognized as one of the nation’s democracy school.  ACM was one of the 26 original signatory community colleges in the Democracy Project, that recognized the important role community colleges have in creating an informed citizenry for the health of our democracy.  At ACM, we pride ourselves in providing opportunities for our students to engage with numerous local partners in order to address issues in our community.  Students develop a greater understanding of the community and of people who may be different from them.  What results is that students feel a greater sense of civic attitudes and civic behaviors, that often is transformative,” said Dr. Kurt Hoffman, Senior Vice-President of Instructional and Student Affairs. 

The Shared Commitment pledge was organized by the Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement coalition (CLDE). The Coalition is led by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Campus Compact, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), Complete College America (CCA) and College Promise. The CLDE coalition is working in partnership with civic learning organizations and initiatives across the U.S. 

CLDE builds from the revival of civic learning already spreading across K-12 and hundreds of postsecondary institutions, spurred by the work of many educational organizations that endorsed the Shared Commitment statement.

“These efforts are a strong beginning, but much more is needed to make democracy learning expected, rather than possible, for postsecondary students,” say CLDE leaders.

The problem, say CLDE leaders, is that students from underserved communities are often the least likely to take part in programs and courses that help engage them with urgent public problems. In response, CLDE is making “equitable participation by students from underserved communities a top priority.” 

CLDE seeks to expand the national debate from its insufficient focus on skills and short-term training to a larger concern with all college students’ civic, historical, global, and intercultural knowledge, and students’ active work on pressing public problems.

“Shared Commitment” signatories include the Higher Learning Commission which, in 2020, made civic engagement a criterion for the 967 institutions it accredits. Six of the major institutional accreditation associations also signed the statement.  Three signatory state systems recently launched comprehensive initiatives to advance civic learning for all students in their public community colleges and universities. 

Other CLDE partners are working in private higher education, in public and private consortia, and in active and ongoing partnerships between universities and community-based organizations, local governments, and philanthropies.

The CLDE coalition will work with its partners on four goals to engage college students with democracy’s future:

  • Quality and Equity: Build commitment and capacity—across postsecondary education—to make civic learning and democracy engagement an expected part of a quality college education for all college students, with equitable participation by students from underserved communities a top priority.
  • Democracy Engagement: Engage students with democracy’s history, present and future in a diverse United States, in U.S. communities still struggling to reverse inherited disparities, and in a globally interdependent world where authoritarianism is on the rise.
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving: Prepare each postsecondary student, through creative combinations of general education, arts and sciences studies, and career-related studies, to work directly on selected public problems that society needs to solve—e.g., problems in racial healing, health, education, housing, climate, digital access, human rights, justice systems, interfaith cooperation, and more.  
  • Policy Commitment: Secure policy support for and robust public investment in the goals listed above.

To learn more about Allegany College of Maryland’s efforts on civic learning and democracy engagement, visit 

Additional information on civic learning also available at:


Search for a program or interest