The strategic approach of Tisch College is to infuse values and skills of active citizenship in all academic programs of Tufts University, and to share the effectiveness of this innovative model with other institutions of higher education - around the world, as well as the U.S.
College staff members function as catalysts, resources and partners to an expanding group - staff, faculty, students, administrators, alumni leaders, and other advisors and supporters -- to integrate active citizenship in courses across the entire curriculum and extra-curriculum, to support civic engagement research, and to develop and maintain university-community partnerships. Tisch College programs engage:
1. Faculty (fellowships, seed grants and staff assistance to support professors to engage in curriculum development and research).
2. Students (a peer leadership program, Citizenship and Public Service Scholars; summer and postgraduate public service internships; Media and Public Service Program; and the Tisch Civic Engagement Fund which encourages new ideas from Tufts students to create positive change, encourage existing student groups to integrate active citizenship in their activities, and support community-identified needs through increased student participation.).
3. Community Partnerships (long-term community partnerships to elevate what students learn by working in the community and to greatly expand the extent and quality of benefits that they provide to those communities).
4. Alumni (sponsoring internships, an expanding Tufts Citizenship and Public Service Award that now is given each year to high school juniors in over 100 high schools in 15 states, an annual alumni service day, and community service projects by local Tufts alumni chapters).
5. Presidential leadership (annual presidential award to students who excel in citizenship and public service, and an annual presidential symposium on community partnerships).
Driving this effort is the belief that the very survival of our democracy depends on increasing citizenship participation in democratic processes, and that Tufts can play a leadership role by ensuring that its graduates in all walks of life are equipped to build stronger communities and to attack the root causes of social, economic and environmental problems. When the Tufts trustees established the College in 2000, they made a dramatic, formal commitment to civic education as a defining dimension of a Tufts education. They took this bold step to address the urgent need for more effective civic leaders and to respond to growing student demand. Today, in comparison to ten years ago, many more college freshman have done significant community service in middle-school and high school. They expect community service to be part of their college experience and the rest of their lives. Through Tisch College, Tufts is supporting their development as practical idealists in all vocations and sectors.
After an initial five-year period development, the College had demonstrated its effectiveness and future potential. At that point Jonathan M. Tisch guaranteed that Tufts' ambitious experiment would continue in perpetuity by making the larger single gift ever for a university civic engagement program. In its short history, and now with permanent financial support, Tisch College has become the new 'gold standard' in university civic engagement work.
Through Tisch College Tufts is providing leadership in reclaiming the civic mission of higher education. In comparison with the more common 'separate center' model of other universities, Tufts' 'college without walls' across-the curriculum strategy is achieving far greater impact -- engaging large numbers of faculty and students in the full range of disciplines. In its comparatively short history, Tisch College already has achieved significant educational outcomes and made active citizenship a defining commitment of the University.
Tufts is beginning to influence the rest of higher education to adopt its distinctively comprehensive model. Together with Campus Compact, Tisch College has organized a network of research universities working together to strengthen their civic engagement activities. In addition, Tufts is bringing together its dual strengths in internationalism and in active citizenship. In September 2005 Tufts President Lawrence Bacow convened the first international conference of university heads about the civic engagement and social responsibility of higher education. Tufts now is serving as secretariat to the expanding Talloires Network of university presidents working together to build the international civic engagement movement of higher education.
In order to maximize its university-wide effectiveness Tisch College operates with the same organizational status as the seven Tufts schools. The Dean reports to the Provost. An adjunct faculty of 40 members from all Tufts schools are peer leaders building the initiative. A distinguished 30-member Board of Advisors, chaired by Alan Solomont, successful businessman and national political activist, are invaluable advisors and ambassadors.