The mission of the Teagle Foundation is “to support and strengthen liberal arts education, which we see as fundamental to meaningful work, effective citizenship, and a fulfilling life.” Civic education entails an understanding of American history and the ways our society has met or failed to meet the standard of its own democratic principles. When viewed expansively, this knowledge can guide students to recognize how communities are formed and continually reformed, and can lead students to consider their responsibilities beyond themselves. Civic knowledge lays the groundwork for members of a shared community to appreciate and grapple with their differences, and to build a mutually respectful collective civil life.
Colleges and universities often assume that their incoming students have received prior preparation on fundamental topics such as the formation of the American republic or the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, contention over its meaning, and its amendment over time. On this assumption, they miss critical opportunities to help undergraduates develop a mature understanding of the history and fragility of democracy. We encourage institutions to embed these themes across their curriculum and to invite deeper academic inquiry on critical issues that vex our local and national communities.
Through Education for American Civic Life, the Foundation seeks to elevate the civic objectives of liberal arts education by partnering with institutions offering bold and coherent initiatives that endow students with the content, skills, and sensibility to participate in a political system designed for self-governance. While progress has been made at many institutions of higher education to promote civic action and various forms of community service as part of the undergraduate experience, the Foundation is especially concerned with grounding such action and service in comprehensive civic knowledge through teaching, reading, debate, and discussion centered in the curriculum.