Skip to main content

Big10 Collaboration: Democracy in 21st Century

Back to All Projects
M Circle at night with lights

A BIG10 Response to Challenges to American Democracy

American democracy stands at a difficult crossroads as it grapples with a deeply polarized political climate, lack of trust, and historical, systemic challenges to full participation in our democratic processes. Higher education has been affected along with many other sectors, but universities are also driving solutions across disciplines from public health to public policy. Many BIG10 universities are not only important individual contributors to these efforts, they also share the responsibility to promote the public good within their respective states.

CivIC and the School of Public Policy are leading an effort with the University of Michigan’s Ford School called Democracy in the 21st Century to harness the collective assets of the BIG10 community - our diverse, cross-sectoral expertise - to engage students, faculty, policymakers, and local communities to take on the challenges facing our democracy.

The Democracy in the 21st Century series includes a rich variety of programs related to five main challenges facing our democracy: elections and access to voting; federal judicial reform; civics education; global democracy; and climate justice. During 2021 and 2022, all 14 BIG10 universities will participate in some or all of the following programs:

A policymaker series focused on leaders and experts in the issues facing 21st Century democracy in the U.S.

Virtual conversations on challenging issues featuring student-led collaborations across the BIG10.

A poll of student opinion on democracy, civic participation and learning in higher education, and the issues under consideration by the Collaboration.

Students from across the BIG10 participate in a virtual simulation led by Ford School faculty allowing them to study, debate, and legislate in the role of Senators involved in federal policymaking on real legislation.

A convening of BIG10 students, scholars, and policymakers to examine the issues raised by the Collaboration and to promote understanding and action on model civic learning practices in higher education.

Our self-governed democracy needs new ideas and fresh perspectives. When Big Ten students and scholars gather to discuss critical issues across vast geographic boundaries and from diverse backgrounds, we will all benefit from the knowledge they generate.
Robert C. Orr Dean, School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland