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IDHE’s New Series of “In the News” Discussion Guides

As we’ve written about recently, keeping up with the rapid pace of news is an ongoing challenge for educators, particularly since the 2016 U.S. election.  With this in mind, we’re launching a new series of discussion guides that tackle the news of the week.  The intent is for these guides to help educators to frame challenging discussions in the classroom and in co-curricular environments.  Our first guide is on the Trump administration’s budget proposal, released to the public on March 16, and our new guide looks at the recent internet privacy legislation. Please take a look at our guides and share them widely, and be on the lookout for new guides in the coming weeks!

IDHE Office Hours

As part of our work to serve as a resource to NSLVE campuses, we’ve scheduled a new set of IDHE “office hours,” now open for registration.  We will have IDHE staff available to answer the questions that you might have about your 2012 & 2014 NSLVE reports, discuss your own campus’ campus climate for student political learning, or troubleshoot any other related challenges you might have at your institution.  Please schedule your 30 minute phone call with us here.

Call for Syllabi

IDHE is pleased to announce a call for syllabi, to be included in an online repository accessible to all educators.  Details on guidelines, review process, and submissions can be found here.

Collaborative Action Documents & the 2016 Election

In a recent blog post, we mentioned the growing movement towards digitally-aided activism and organizing.  Provided here is a running list of documents that we’ve found from across the web that seek to promote political learning and engagement and encourage civic action.

Holiday Political Conversations

We at IDHE would like to wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe holiday season.  In hopes of lessening one of the potential sources of anxiety, we offer a few links to help you navigate some of those tricky political conversations you may encounter:

Election Reflections from Nancy Thomas, IDHE Director

On November 9, IDHE Director Nancy Thomas called upon U.S. colleges and universities to pause and take stock of how they used the election to teach students about democracy and political engagement.  To help with this evaluation process, we’ll be disseminating a more comprehensive tool in early December.  You can read Nancy’s blog post on the election here.


Featured Resources

IDHE Report: Politics 365: Fostering Campus Climates for Student Political Learning & EngagementIDHE report thumbnail

This book chapter, reprinted here with permission as an IDHE Report, features an exclusive look at a portion of IDHE’s qualitative findings. This set of data, known as Politics 365, explores the themes seen at institutions with unexpectedly high levels of student political engagement.  The full report can be read here.




IDHE Report: A Dizzying 3 Weeks of Teachable MomentsA Dizzying 3 Weeks IDHE Report

How can educators seize the teachable moments of a new presidency?  In this IDHE Report, we offer ways for educators to frame issues as they arise, across disciplines.  You can read the full report here.





Facilitating Political Discussions: A Facilitator Training Workshop Guide

To help campuses navigate political conversations in this turbulent election, we’ve created a step-by-step workshop on training facilitators to manage “politically charged discussions” on campus. In this packet, you will find exercise, readings, handouts, and worksheets on everything from building relationships, establishing ground rules, taking perspectives, troubleshooting degrading speech, and balancing free speech and inclusion.

You can download the guide here.

IDHE Report: Campus Stories
Campus stories report
During this recent, contentious election season, college campuses were facing an incredible diversity of challenges.  In light of this unique time in our nation’s history, we asked: What are higher education institutions doing to increase political learning and engagement?  To read more, access the full report here.


Featured Research

College Student Voting Rates Vary by Region, Field of Study
The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) has released a detailed analysis of the voting patterns of millions of college students, examining voter rates by region of the country, field of study, and type of institution.

This first-of-its kind study offers insights into precisely how certain groups of college students voted in 2012, based on an analysis of the voting records of 7.4 million students at 783 higher education institutions.

Click images for full infographics



Major findings include:

  • Among all fields of study, education/teaching majors voted at the highest rate in 2012 (55%), surpassing the overall average rate of 45% among all students.
  • Voting rates among students in the STEM fields lagged other disciplines by as much as a 20-point margin. Students in the engineering and mathematics/statistics fields voted at the lowest rate: 35%.
  • Among participating institutions, turnout varied considerably by region of the U.S., ranging from a low of 39% in the Southwest (AZ, NM, OK & TX) to a high of 55% in the Plains (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND & SD).




The Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE) is dedicated to shifting college and university priorities, practices, and culture to strengthen democracy and advance social and political equity. The Institute focuses explicitly on college student political learning and engagement in democratic practice. IDHE achieves its goals through research, resource development, and convening.


IDHE research and analysis has been featured on major media outlets:

D&D cover

Diversity & Democracy

The Institute for Democracy and Higher Education was proud to serve as guest editor of the Fall 2015 issue of Diversity & Democracy: Student and Institutional Engagement in Political Life.

Produced in partnership with The American Assocation of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), this issue of Diversity & Democracy calls readers to examine how they can best support student and institutional engagement in political life. The issue highlights practices that advance educational goals related to political learning and explores the various roles that students, faculty, and administrators can play in creating a politically engaged and socially just democracy. Articles from our researchers include:



Launched in 2013, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement serves two related purposes:

  • It provides a free and easy service to nearly 1,000 participating colleges and universities nationally. By joining the study, campuses receive a tailored report telling them their students’s voter registration and voting rates, as well as rates broken down by age, gender, field of study, and more. See a sample report here.
  • It is a robust database of student, institutional, and civic data that can be used to study voting patterns and correlations.

View select findings from our data below, and check back soon for more NSLVE findings.

Voting Rates by Institutional Type 2012 Student Voting Rates by Region 2012 Student Voting Rates by Race/Ethnicity & Gender 2012 Student Voting Rates by Major
2012 & 2014 Voting Rates by Institutional Type (8/16) 2012 Voting Rates by Region (4/16; see accompanying press release) 2012 Voting Rates by Race & Gender (4/16; see accompanying press release) 2012 Voting Rates by Field of Study (5/16; see accompanying press release)

Association Cluster Reports

In order to better contextualize NSLVE findings, we’ve placed data into comparison reports, organized by professional organization affiliations.  These cluster reports can be accessed by clicking the images below:

American Democracy Project Institutions Cluster Report Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities Cluster Report Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium Institutes
American Democracy Project Institutions Cluster Report Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities Cluster Report Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium Institutes
NASPA LEAD Institutions Cluster Report The Democracy Commitment Institutions Cluster Report TRUCEN Institutions Cluster Report
NASPA LEAD Institutions Cluster Report The Democracy Commitment Institutions Cluster Report TRUCEN Institutions Cluster Report
CIC Cluster Report 2012
The Council of Independent Colleges Report


Campus Climate Research
Our team of qualitative researchers has developed a conceptual framework for college student political learning and engagement in democracy, and from that, an approach to studying campus climates on individual campuses. Sign up for our updates to learn the findings from these case studies.

Political Opportunity, Agency, and Mobility
How do students develop political agency?  What kinds of learning experiences increase student interest in political life? What is the relationship between political learning and social, economic, and political opportunity and equity? What is the role of social, cultural, and ideological diversity in educating for democracy? We’re working to answer these questions through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods.

If you’re interested in more information about these studies, contact Nancy Thomas.


We’re developing resources that educators can use to improve and increase political learning and engagement on their campuses. Some examples include:

IDHE Report Series

Why Elections Matter Report Using your NSLVE reports Campus stories report
Why Elections Matter
and What Your Campus Can Do Now
Using Your NSLVE Reports Campus Stories: What are institutions doing to increase political learning & engagement?

We recommend convening a campus-wide dialogue about the data in your campus reports and have created a discussion guide for that purpose. You can access the NSLVE Campus Report Discussion Guide for tips for doing this on your campus.

Democracy Matters: A Guide to Non-Statutory Barriers to Voting
Campus climates for political engagement matter, but if students face technical barriers to voting, they may get frustrated and not bother.  In this guide, we walk you through the sometimes-hidden barriers students face and offer strategies for overcoming them.

You can read the guide here.

Download a workbook for addressing the hidden barriers to college student voting.

External Resources
This curated list of resources from our partner organizations and others will help you increase and improve political learning and democratic engagement on your campus. These resources are organized around these themes: civic life, elections, and equity.


We bring together key stakeholders together to leverage resources and networks in facilitating necessary institutional change in higher education.

Frontiers of Democracy

Please save the date for Frontiers of Democracy: June 23-25, 2016 at Tufts University’s downtown Boston campus.

Frontiers is an annual conference that draws scholars and practitioners who strive to understand and improve people’s engagement with government, with communities, and with each other. We explore the circumstances of democracy today and a breadth of civic practices that include deliberative democracy, civil and human rights, social justice, community organizing and development, civic learning and political engagement, the role of higher education in democracy, and Civic Studies. See more about past years here.

You can enter your information here to let us know that you are interested in attending and to ensure that you receive additional information about the agenda and registering for Frontiers.

White House Summit
On October 16, 2014, the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University hosted a Summit on Civic Learning and National Service. This invitational Summit brought together 75 higher education leaders, government officials, representatives of civic organizations, and researchers studying civic learning and engagement. The rich conversation brought many themes and disagreements.

Download the full summit proceedings here.

Our Team

01/25/2017 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - Staff from Tisch College Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, pose for a group photo on Jan. 25, 2017. Front row (from left): Inger Bergom, Senior Researcher; Prabhat Gautam, Data Analyst. Back row (from left): Alena Roshko, Program Administrator; Adam Gismondi, Program Administrator; Nancy Thomas, Director; and Ishara Connors, Associate Director. (Anna Miller/Tufts University)

Front row (from left): Inger Bergom, Senior Researcher; Prabhat Gautam, Data Analyst. Back row (from left): Alena Roshko, Program Administrator; Adam Gismondi, Program Administrator; Nancy Thomas, Director; and Ishara Connors, Associate Director.

See full staff bios here.

Contact Us

If you have a media request, please email our staff here.

If you have a question about your NSLVE Campus Report or would like to learn more about your institution’s political campus climate, please email our staff here.

If you’d like to inquire about obtaining a copy of your institution’s NSLVE report, go here.

You can reach us on Twitter at @TuftsIDHE or call us at 617-627-3804.

If you’d like to sign up for periodic updates from IDHE, please use the form below; your contact information will remain confidential.

In the coming months we will be sharing resources for campuses and researchers to enhance political learning and engagement in democracy.

See the full archive of our past IDHE Updates here.