MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (September 17, 2020)-The Talloires Network of Engaged Universities (previously the Talloires Network) today celebrates its 15th anniversary, commemorating the signing of the “Talloires Declaration on the Civic Roles and Social Responsibilities of Higher Education.” The declaration created the international network of university presidents, rectors and vice chancellors devoted to the civic engagement of their institutions.
“The values and goals expressed in the Talloires Declaration are more essential than ever,” said Anthony P. Monaco, Tufts University president and chair of the Steering Committee. “Universities have a special obligation to listen to the communities in which they are located, promote shared human values, speak out on issues of civic importance, and take concrete actions to eliminate systemic racism in their communities.”
The Talloires Network of Engaged Universities (the Network) marks its 15th anniversary with a new name and logo, as well as a new messaging philosophy that more accurately reflects its current initiatives to build and support the university civic engagement movement.
“By updating our messaging framework, the language we use to describe the Network will be more in line with our practice and with the realities of this moment,” said Lorlene Hoyt, the Network’s executive director. “The goal of a messaging update is not to change the Network, it is to reflect the ways in which the Network has already changed.”
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact people across the world, member institutions are working in collaboration with local partners to provide health care, food, water and mental health services.
“The Network is finding ways for fundamental university civic engagement partnerships to operate more safely,” said Sara Ladrón de Guevara, Universidad Veracruzana rectora and vice chair of the Steering Committee. “Thanks to a growing partnership with Open Society Foundations, member institutions in the Global South are receiving urgently needed financial support to face the challenges of the pandemic.”
During this time of uncertainty, the Network is also recognizing the vision, creativity and determination of university students who are finding ways to contribute productively to society while feeling isolated from their peers.
In April, the Network launched a new program entitled “Communities Of Virtual Alliance & Inter-Dependence” (or “COV-AID”). The COV-AID Student Engagment Award has provided financial and group support to 10 undergraduate students around the world. Part of an online international community of practice, students have organized webinars to share their experiences, build solidarity and generate hope.
The selection criteria for partnership and student awards gave priority to approaches to engagement that effectively incorporate gender equity, diversity and inclusion into their administrative structures and activities.
“The Black Lives Matter movement reminds us that longstanding biases and prejudices are embedded in almost every aspect of our society and higher education is certainly no exception,” said Hoyt. “It is only by reexamining our practices and messaging on an ongoing basis that we can actively counter these tendencies.”
The 2020 Talloires Network Leaders Conference was postponed due to COVID-19. Because Network members highly value the face-to-face exchange of ideas and strategies for civic engagement, the convening has been rescheduled. It will be jointly hosted by Tufts University and Harvard University, September 30 – October 3, 2021. Previous conferences were convened in: Talloires, France; Madrid; Cape Town, South Africa; and Veracruz, Mexico.
“Since convening the first gathering of the Talloires Network in 2005, I have been inspired again and again by the commitment and achievements of its member institutions,” said Larry Bacow, Harvard University president. “Their contributions to the public good-through the education of informed citizens, the pursuit of knowledge, and the encouragement of discovery and innovation-improve the lives of people and better communities and societies around the world. Engaged universities are indispensable.”
The Talloires Network of Engaged Universities is an international association of more than 400 institutions in 78 countries committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. It is housed in the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, and chaired by Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco.