National Leadership Dialogue Series

The National Leadership Dialogue Series was organized in 2002 by the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, formerly titled, Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good. This series of dialogues existed to concretize the relationship between higher education and society as well as to create a movement through which this relationship will be redefined.

Over the course of six weeks in the spring of 2002, three groups comprising over two hundred educators, policymakers, and students, along with a small number of foundation executives, community organizers, K-12 administrators, and others, came together to restate their commitment to civic responsibility and to examine practical strategies for renewing the union between higher education and society at large.

The dialogues each focused on a specific theme vital to the creation of a larger civic movement in American higher education. The first examined the role of public understanding, public support, and public policy in shaping the connection between higher education and society. The second dialogue took up the implications of social responsibility for faculty, administration, students, and the community. And the third discourse explored practical strategies for bringing academic institutions and cultures into closer alignment with their public missions.

In the fall of 2002, the 200 participants from the first three dialogues reconvened at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for a National Summit on Higher Education for the Public Good. The objective of the National Summit was to lay the groundwork for a common agenda and identify key strategies to be undertaken by professional associations, foundations, institutional leaders, scholars, practitioners, legislatures and policy-makers.

Participants of the National Summit committed themselves to a practical and urgent agenda for change in higher education. This commitment has the potential not only to revivify the public service mission of colleges and universities but also begin to heal the separation between the nation’s academic and civic cultures. The work that evolved from the National Leadership Dialogue Series, as well as the information conveyed in the Common Agenda, is ongoing at both the local and national level. Continuing to dialogue and develop action strategies regarding society’s future and higher education’s role in its’ achievement must remain central to our work.

These meetings were planned by a select group of individuals who recognize the promising innovative work underway in our colleges and universities but who also acknowledge a need to redefine the covenant between higher education and society. The meetings were designed to examine forces shaping higher education’s public role, and to explore alternatives for action that can be taken by professional associations, funders, institutional leaders, scholars, practitioners and policy makers to strengthen the contribution of higher education to the public good.

At the meeting an essential “case” for why and how we might renew the covenant between higher education and society was be presented for discussion. We adopted, for the purposes of our discussion, the logic and the language of social movements and compare the forces at work between higher education and society to those that have shaped other transforming efforts in American society over the last thirty years.


Following each meeting we produced a written report. These reports are available for download.

National Summit Report (PDF file)

National Leadership Dialogue Series – Report 3, Montecello, Minnesota (PDF file) – June 3-5, 2002

National Leadership Dialogue Series – Report 2, Oxnard, California (PDF file) – May 5-10, 2002

National Leadership Dialogue Series – Report 1, Wye River, Maryland (PDF file) – April 22-24, 2002


The official Summit Books are also available for delivery via postal mail. The cost of the books is to cover shipping charges only. A check or money order should be submitted when mailing the form to the National Forum. Please contact us at with questions or problems.


Theme in Action & Research: Higher Education for the Public Good

Theme in Action & Research: Deliberative Dialogue