Mission. Colleges and universities are powerful and historically significant civic institutions that, if united, can play a major role in overcoming the challenges facing our nation today. The goals of this letter are to: (1) unite the academic community around democratic values that are threatened, (2) affirm to the nation that these values will be upheld at colleges and universities, and (3) support the diverse actions that will be required to uphold these values.


Action. In focusing on unity of purpose and brevity, we have elected to avoid discussion of specific threats or actions. However, we intend this letter to support a range of actions to defend our democracy, depending on the number of signatures we gather. We may deliver the letter to members of Congress in the week after the March for Science in Washington. The letter will be made available to media organizations, starting with op-ed pieces being written by various signatories, and perhaps targeting prominent media venues in the future. As calls to action arise on specific political developments that need national-level attention from academia, we will judiciously use the emails provided by signatories to encourage participation. We welcome suggestions about how this letter can best support the diverse actions that academia must take to defend our democracy. info@academic-values.org


Attribution. This statement was written by E.J. Chichilnisky with input from several friends and colleagues, including Nancy Kanwisher and Roger Levy (whose work inspired the effort), Susan Spinrad Esterly and Eero Simoncelli (who contributed crucial ideas and edits), Dario Ringach, Susan Koshy, Sarah Schwettmann, Laura Woodrow, Krysten Hommel and others. Technical development for signature collection was generously contributed by an anonymous collaborator, based on software used for http://mitvalues.org. The opinions expressed in this letter do not necessarily represent those of our employers.


History. On March 21, 2017, this letter became open to all signatories who are students, faculty and staff of accredited colleges and universities in the United States of America. Drafts of this letter underwent many revisions based on excellent suggestions, such as pointing out specific threats to our democratic ideals, and specific actions that might be taken to deal with those threats. Many individuals and groups are doing the important work of focusing on those specifics. We opted instead for a short letter attempting to convey a lasting message about the values that unite us.


Copyright. The statement is in the public domain. To the extent possible under the law, the author (E.J. Chichilnisky) hereby waives all copyright and related or neighboring rights to “Commitment to Democratic Values, American Colleges and Universities”. This work is published in the United States. If you adopt the statement for your own use, please let us know.


Contact. We welcome your input. Unfortunately, we may not be able to respond to all comments. info@academic-values.org


How are signatures collected? Signatories must possess a valid .edu email. Upon signing, signatories receive an email with a confirmation link. Once the signature is confirmed, the list is updated.


I’m faculty/student/staff at a college or university in the USA – may I sign? Yes! Our letter is open to all members of the academic community.


I’m not faculty/student/staff at a college or university in the USA – may I sign? No. But we sincerely appreciate your support and sharing this statement with others.


What will you do with the information I give you when I sign? Initially, we will use your email address only for validation of academic affiliation. In the future, we may use it to distribute information about political initiatives aimed at upholding the core values promoted in the letter. Any such email will include an unsubscribe link that allows you to instantly and permanently remove yourself from the mailing list. The information you provide will not be used for any other purpose. The names of signatories, their institutions, and their affiliations (faculty, student, staff) will be publicly available. Email addresses will not be shared with any other individuals or groups.