Building Robust & Inclusive Democracy

Tisch College announces transition to strengthen youth civic engagement research & impact

Tisch College is the leading, non-partisan research center on young people’s civic learning and political engagement, and today we are announcing an important transition that will strengthen our work, outreach and impact.
students standing in voting booths during early voting

Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life is the leading, non-partisan research center on young people’s civic learning and political engagement, and today we are announcing an important transition that will strengthen our work, outreach and impact.

For nearly a decade, Tisch College’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) has supported its signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). NSLVE offers colleges and universities an opportunity to understand their students’ voting and registration rates. Not only does NSLVE provide data-rich reports to more than one thousand campuses, but it also offers tailored resources and research for institutions to deploy these data to strengthen civic and political learning, close equity gaps in participation, and promote engagement on campus and beyond. As we seek to grow and elevate this work within Tisch College, we will be transitioning this seminal college-voting study out of the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, as IDHE moves to a national education organization.

IDHE, as an institution, will move, along with its founder, Dr. Nancy Thomas, to the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) to expand its qualitative research and outreach related to democracy, free speech and civic dialogue. AAC&U is a global membership organization dedicated to advancing the democratic purposes of higher education by promoting equity, innovation, and excellence in liberal education. Dr. Thomas will serve as Executive Director of IDHE and Senior Advisor to the President for Democracy Initiatives.

Throughout her career, Dr. Nancy Thomas has had a robust impact on the field of higher education, civic learning, and campus dialogue. We are proud of, and grateful for, her years of service to Tufts University and Tisch College. We are looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Dr. Thomas, IDHE and AAC&U moving forward. 

Going forward, Tisch College has ambitious plans for supporting and elevating the work of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) under the leadership of Dr. Adam Gismondi, who will now direct NSLVE. A leader in the field of civic life on campuses and student engagement, Dr. Gismondi previously served as IDHE’s director of impact, where he led stakeholder partnerships and communications, developed resources for campuses and co-authored the groundbreaking national college-student voting reports. 

NSLVE is an integral part of a suite of powerful quantitative research tools and products at Tisch College focused on civic learning and education, improving civic opportunities for all young people, and supporting robust and meaningful participation in our shared democracy. We look forward to working with even more students, campus leaders, and stakeholder organizations across the country to understand and lift up young people’s voices, advocacy and impact.

“At a time of great risk to our democracy, colleges and universities can and must play a role in understanding the problems and promises of this moment,” said Tisch College Dean Dayna Cunningham. “Big data projects like NSLVE can help support and strengthen democracy and civic learning if valuable data are collected and made available in innovative ways and offered within an ecosystem of related research and tools. Tisch College is a hub for such innovation. I am looking forward to this next phase of impact of our research enterprise, and I am grateful to our many partners in this work.” 

Peter Levine, Tisch College Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Tufts University Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs, added, “Universities are influential institutions with great potential to strengthen democracy. Through NSLVE, CIRCLE, the international Talloires Network of Engaged Universities that Tisch College supports, Tufts’ own student programs and community partnerships, and our intellectual leadership in higher education, Tisch College aims to help and encourage colleges and universities to do more for democracy, both in the United States and around the world.”

Tisch College anticipates a release of the next round of campus-based and national NSLVE, college-voting reports in late October 2023. Learn more at