NASPA Civic Engagement Initiatives

To support the field of civic learning and democatic engment (CLDE), NASPA is committed to providing resources and opportunities to enhance and develop your understanding of CLDE in higher education. 

Civic Action Network

To advance the recommendations in A Crucible Moment over time, AAC&U convened in 2012 thirteen national civic learning and higher education organizations that have collaborated for over six years to make civic learning expected rather than optional for college students.  While two organizations have changed over the last six years, each is a national organization with extensive reach and influence; each participated in roundtables that shaped A Crucible Moment, and each has committed to using its infrastructure to sustain progress in educating for diverse democracies and globally responsible citizens.  Together, these organizations reach some 2,000 universities and colleges (both two-year and four-year) and include more than 8 million students. Through coordinated strategies, the CLDE Action Network aims to keep the national civic engagement agenda visible through conferences, publications, joint projects, research, webinars, and other resources.

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting

AASCU's American Democracy Project (ADP) and NASPA are committed to advancing the civic engagement movement in higher education. Join us in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for our annual conference which brings together faculty, student affairs professionals, senior campus administrators, students and community partners. Together we will ensure that students graduate from our colleges and universities--both public and private--prepared to be the informed, engaged citizens that our communities and our democracy need. To lean more about the annual CLDE Meeting, click here

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Awards

Civic Learning, Democratic Engagement, Service-Learning and related Excellence Award

This award area includes promoting the education of students for engaged citizenship through democratic participation in their communities, respect and appreciation of diversity, applied learning, and social responsibility.  These programs are meant to improve institutional culture, policy, and practice in order to advance an institution’s educational opportunities to prepare students for active citizenship and active participation in our nation's democracy. To learn more about this award, click here

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Knowledge Communtiy Awards

The CLDE KC offers the following awards:

  • Civic Engagement Collaborative Program
  • Outstanding Program Bridging Civic Learning and Leadership Development
  • Rising Star for Commitment to Civic Engagement

To learn more about these awards click here

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Terminology

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) means promoting the education of students for engaged citizenship through democratic participation in their communities, respect and appreciation of diversity, applied learning and social responsibility. (

Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes. (Thomas Ehrlich (Ed.) Civic Responsibility and Higher Education. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 2000)

Community Engagement

Community Engagement is the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2012)

Political Engagement

Political Engagement is defined as “activity that has the intent or effect of influencing government action – either directly by affecting the making or implementation of public policy or indirectly by influencing the selection of those people who make those policies” (Verba, Schlozman and Brady,1995, p. 38). 


Service Learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development.  (*Service-Learning definition cited from Jacoby, Service-Learning in Higher Education, 1996)