Vision & Mission
Our North Star: Building robust, inclusive democracy for an increasingly multiracial society
Building on Tufts University’s strengths as a civically engaged, student-centered, research institution—and its aspiration to become an anti-racist institution—Tisch College’s North Star helps situate Tufts as an academic leader in a society in which democracy is at risk, and in which there is a need for just and effective governance for emerging multiracial societies.
Pillars of Impact
Deploying Big Data for Democracy
Tisch College has one of the biggest research teams in the U.S. devoted to understanding the challenges to our democracy—and the opportunities to build and sustain it. We use that scholarship to inform our own programming at Tufts and to drive national conversations about voting and elections, the role of citizens, the health of democratic institutions, and the power of young people.
- Leading research authority on voting & civic engagement of young people, especially disadvantaged youth
- Offering colleges and universities an opportunity to learn their student registration and voting rates and, for interested campuses & to examine their campus climate for civic participation
- Providing actionable research to policymakers and residents across Massachusetts to engage on critical issues.
Co-creating with Communities
At Tisch College we believe in the value of co-creation with communities. We facilitate and sustain strong, meaningful, and sustainable relationships between Tufts and its host communities. We support and encourage students and faculty members to work with partner communities in addressing community-identified needs. These partnerships can take many forms, including academic research, curriculum development, forums and conferences, coursework, internships, volunteer work, and more.
- Faculty and students solving problems with community members by developing and deploying research-based solutions
- Shaping an emerging industry with community members at the table: Off-shore wind
- Connecting to community through arts, activism & the humanities
Preparing the Next Generation of Civic Leaders
At Tisch College we believe that every young person has a path to civic engagement and impact. More than that, we know that we need their leadership in order to solve big challenges and build and sustain a robust and inclusive democracy. Our programs and research enable that change to happen and support young leaders in their communities–and in the world. Here are some examples:
- Combining theory, academic exploration and sustained fieldwork in communities: Tisch Scholars
- Learning about systems change through funded and supported internships in the public and non-profit sectors: Tisch Summer Fellows
- Collaborating with communities to build capacity and deploy skills to address big challenges: Freedom Summer
- Examining creative and collaborative responses to the problems of mass incarceration and racial injustice: Tufts University Prison Initiative at Tisch College (TUPIT)
- Developing and supporting transformational, experiential learning opportunities around the world with a focus on social justice: Civic Semester and Initiative for Global Leadership (IGL)
- Promoting racial justice in the public policy and planning fields: REPP Program in UEP
- Using big data, catalytic partnerships, and compelling narratives to drive policy and programs, electrify and communicate the power of youth voting and reduce barriers to robust, inclusive participation.
- Deploying evidence-based tools and best practices, scale a nation-wide network of young leaders to revive democratic engagement.
- A suite of federal programs offers once-in-a-generation opportunities for urban and rural development. Seize the moment to train a corps of young leaders working with communities to lay foundations for shared prosperity.
Our Strategic Plan: What is Ours To Do?
For more than a year, Tisch College engaged in an inclusive strategic planning process. Convening over 120 group discussions, meetings and stakeholder interviews, the process and resulting plan reflect the input of alumni, community partners, students, staff, faculty, and university leaders. Our strategic planning process asked the central question of civic life: what is ours to do?
Underpinning Tisch College’s strategic direction is a renewed commitment to fostering and supporting a new generation of global leaders, with the skills, knowledge and experience to work across differences to achieve progress and to build and sustain robust, inclusive democracy. Tisch College's work will seek to: create new knowledge about the challenges of building robust, inclusive democracy, with a particular focus on marginalized youth; train a generation of citizen leaders; and collaborate with communities to solve emerging challenges.
Our strategic plan outlines four main priorities for the next phase of our work together:
1. Increase North Star alignment & collaboration within Tisch College
2. Expand partnerships across Tufts to foster civic engagement & deepen student experience
3. Strengthen community-engaged research & external partnerships
4. Extend local, national & global impact & learning
Educating the Next Generation for a Multiracial Democracy
Dayna Cunningham, the Pamela and Pierre Omidyar Dean of Tisch College of Civic Life, outlines opportunities and responsibilities for higher education in readying the next generation of engaged citizens to govern themselves in a multiracial democracy.
Democracy in the United States is under its biggest threat in decades. What does a healthy democracy mean for the success of the nation? And what can the average person do to protect it? Saving Democracy explores the challenges facing democracy today and our best hopes for safeguarding it. The video series was produced by TuftsNow with experts from Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.