Impact Areas

Democracy, Civic and Global Engagement

ROTC students raise American flag on flagphole

Look to the Champions

Look to the Champions of freedom for all.

As democratic principles, institutions, and practices are facing significant challenges amidst growing polarization, the call to foster balanced, productive, and respectful discourse at all stages is more important than ever.

As the defining public institution, U-M promotes democratic ideals, such as freedom of expression, civil engagement, equal protection, and respect across differences. Our campuses are abuzz each day with individuals from all regions of the globe, each bringing unique perspectives, values, and knowledge to our community.

At a moment when extreme ideas are finding audiences, it is our responsibility to prepare and educate our community to engage in respectful, productive dialogue and embrace the opportunity to learn from people’s differences. U-M is where significant conversations happen, where our campus members are challenged in new ways that lead to expanded viewpoints and positive ripple effects that will impact the world.

In the next decade, U-M will continue to focus on expanding our community’s understanding of democratic practices and principles to foster more creative outcomes and boost participation in democratic processes. We are dedicated to equipping our students with the necessary skills to make substantial contributions to society and ardently advocate for equal and active democratic participation among all citizens.

We also commit to empowering individuals to become catalysts for positive change by engaging with local initiatives and global experiences. Through these interactions, our learners will return transformed, inspired, and strengthened with the ability to enrich their communities and the world through broader perspectives.

We will enhance the quality of public debate by leveraging our interactions with leaders and government at all levels to extend our impact well beyond our university and our state. Technological advancement, including generative artificial intelligence, is rapidly altering the information landscape — both access to, and accuracy of, content — along with societal capabilities, and equity. These changes exert significant pressure on social, political, educational, and cultural institutions, which impacts traditional norms and values.

Embracing our responsibility as educators, we firmly believe that restoring trust in democracy demands courageous and decisive leadership from public institutions and those that we educate. To resolve the myriad of problems our society faces, and to encourage greater public involvement in democratic processes, U-M — as always — will rise to the occasion and lead by example.


  • Empower students to become active and informed contributors to democracy by deepening their understanding of its practices, principles, and processes — beginning with the most essential act: voting — fostering a new generation of leaders committed to making a significant difference.
  • Elevate the quality of public conversation at U-M by nurturing spaces where respectful and meaningful dialogue can flourish, where every voice is heard, and where the principles of free speech and mutual respect are upheld across all our communities.
  • Ignite a passion for civic action in our students by providing opportunities, resources and support for service learning, community collaborations, and partnerships to empower individuals to tackle real-world challenges and drive meaningful impact.
  • Strengthen partnerships and alliances at every level—local, state, and national—to mobilize support for democratic ideals and inspire civic engagement that leads to informed and responsible voting actions.
  • Continue to cultivate a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere on our campuses that recognizes and addresses the needs of varied communities.