Cal State San Bernardino is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) nonpartisan American Democracy Project© by recommitting to the initiative's guiding principles of civic and democratic engagement.

The nonpartisan initiative has engaged thousands of campus leaders, faculty, staff and students to equip college graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to be informed and engaged global citizens.

“Cal State San Bernardino is a proud member of the American Democracy Project, and we continue to lead by example and advocate for the kind of democratic engagement and civic mindedness the program embodies," said university President Tomás D. Morales. “This initiative has played a vital role in fostering civic and democratic engagement among our campus community, empowering our students to actively participate in shaping our society, helping to define its future.”

Encouraging CSUSB students to become civically involved is one of the stated outcomes of the university’s Office of Community Engagement.

"At the heart of CSUSB's Office of Community Engagement lies a commitment to nurturing socially responsible leaders,” said Brian Heisterkamp, interim director of the Office of Community Engagement. “We strive to instill in students the importance of active participation in their communities and beyond. By stepping into the civic arena, students amplify their voices, fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and positive change for a positive, interconnected future.”

As a member of the American Democracy Project network, CSUSB joins a growing number of AASCU campuses, collaborating on creating meaningful and engaging methods of preparing students to participate in a thriving democracy.

In honor of the anniversary, CSUSB is recommitting to the principles of the American Democracy Project. Those principles include:

  • Making civic learning and democratic engagement an expectation for every student.
  • Integrating civic inquiry across the curriculum.
  • Modeling open, democratic engagement from multiple perspectives.
  • Fostering an ethos of civic mindedness.
  • Advancing civic action through democratic processes and practices.

“College and university leaders are committed to advancing thoughtful and constructive dialogue rather than polarized debate,” said Cathy Copeland, American Democracy Project director. “By recommitting to the guiding principles of the American Democracy Project, we encourage information literacy, responsible stewardship of our nation’s resources, and relationships that acknowledge America’s commitment to a healthy global society.”

The American Democracy Project was established in 2003 in partnership with The New York Times.

Key benefits for American Democracy Project campuses include access to a network of leaders, faculty, staff, and students, all of whom foster collaborative research and resource-sharing opportunities. Additionally, the project offers regular gatherings, such as the annual Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement meeting, professional development opportunities for leaders across all levels, and an extensive national partner network. Participating institutions also have the chance to engage in grant-funded national projects, workshops, and initiatives aligned with their missions.

CSUSB students’ involvement in civic affairs has been recognized elsewhere. In 2022, the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, found that voting rates among CSUSB students increased significantly in the 2020 presidential election, rising to 68.4 percent in 2020 from a rate of 52.5 percent in 2016. The university’s percentage voting rate was above the 66 percent average voting rate for all institutions. Registration rates also rose to 84.9 percent in 2020 from 77.8 percent in 2016.

To learn more about the American Democracy Project recommitment initiative and to see the growing list of institutions that have also made the commitment, visit the American Democracy Project website.

About the American Association of State Colleges and Universities

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 350 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. Visit for more information.