Caryn McTighe Musil

Senior Scholar and Director of Civic Learning and Democracy Initiatives, Office of the President, AAC&U

Caryn McTighe Musil is the Senior Scholar and Director of Civic Learning and Democracy at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Until November, 2012, she was the Senior Vice President of Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives. Under her leadership, the office mobilized powerful and overlapping educational reform movements involving civic, diversity, global learning, women’s issues, and personal and social responsibility. Dr. Musil has special expertise in curriculum and faculty development, which she applies through a variety of programming.

Dr. Musil is currently directing a multi-project national initiative, called Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement. As part of this initiative, Dr. Musil worked in partnership with the Global Perspective Institute (GPI) to host a series of national roundtable meetings to learn from a broad spectrum of leaders within and beyond higher education about how to make civic learning an expected outcome for every college student. Dr. Musil was lead author in the resulting report to the Department of Education A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future. A Crucible Moment was officially released January 10, 2012 at a special White House release event.

Dr. Musil also leads a new project specifically targeting humanities courses in community colleges as sources for illuminating issues of democracy, equity, and responsible engagement. This project, entitled Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Community, Difference, and Democratic Thinking will work with ten competitively-selected community colleges to infuse themes related to democracy and difference into the humanities. Dr. Musil also led the multi-project initiative “Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility,” that focused on engaging students with core questions about their ethical responsibilities to self and others, and about their responsibilities as citizens in a diverse democracy.

Dr. Musil has directed a series of campus-based global learning projects, and is currently involved with a Luce Foundation-funded project, General Education for a Global Century. This project seeks to infuse global learning throughout the general education curriculum. Its premise is that the complexities and scope of modern challenges demand increased global knowledge and understanding. Higher education can help prepare students not only to thrive in such a world, but to remedy its inequities.

For the past ten years, Dr. Musil has also served on the steering committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy in partnership with the Council of Europe. She has been working with the Council of Europe to further the global aspect of civic engagement so that institutions can foster student learning about democratic cultures and human rights in our world.

In addition, Dr. Musil serves as Director of the Program on the Status and Education of Women, which produces a tri-quarterly online newsletter On Campus with Women. The program also offers workshops on women’s leadership for inclusive excellence through the Campus Women Lead project, and provides national leadership on issues concerning women in higher education. In 2005, Dr. Musil received the Donna Shavlik Award for Sustained and Continuing Commitment to Women’s Advancement in Higher Education. 

Publications and Expertise

In addition to her office’s projects, she has written and edited a number of publications, including Remapping Education for Social Responsibility: Civic, Global, and U.S. Diversity in John Saltmarsh and Matthew Harttely’s To Serve a Larger Purpose: Engagement for Democracy and the Transformation of Higher Education (2011) Promoting Universal Values in the Face of Societal Change in Sjur Bergan’s Higher Education for Modern Societies: Competencies and Values (2010) Educating for Personal and Social Responsibility: The Civic Learning Spiral in Barbara Jacoby’s Civic Engagement in Higher Education: Concepts and Practices (2009), Assessing Global Learning: Matching Good Intentions with Good Practice (2006), “Educating for Citizenship” (2003), Assessing Campus Diversity Initiatives: A Guide for Campus Practitioners (2002) and Gender, Science and the Undergraduate Curriculum, ed (2001). She is a frequent plenary speaker and workshop leader on civic, diversity, global, and women’s issues within higher education.

Caryn McTighe Musil received her B.A. from Duke University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University. Before moving into national level administrative work in higher education, she was a faculty member for eighteen years.

Dr. Musil has been an educational consultant and outside evaluator at numerous colleges and universities, with a special interest in faculty and curriculum development and has served as a reviewer and outside evaluator for FIPSE, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Ford Foundation. A frequent speaker and presenter various national conferences, Dr. Musil has been writing, teaching, and speaking on women, gender, and diversity throughout her career.

Past Projects

From 2002-2006, Dr. Musil directed the Bildner Foundation Campus Diversity for eight New Jersey institutions doing diversity work in a statewide initiative. The New Jersey Campus Diversity Initiative had three overarching goals: reduce prejudice, promote intergroup understanding and foster the comprehensive institutional change needed to support such learning.

From 2001-2004, Dr. Musil was Project Director for Liberal Education and Global Citizenship: The Arts of Democracy, funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to work with institutions to incorporate global issues and social responsibility into the major. The impetus for this project came from her involvement directing a Ford Foundation project with higher education representatives from India, South Africa, and the United States who met in a variety of forums and seminars over a five-year period to explore cross-cutting issues about higher education's role in diverse democracies.

Dr. Musil directed a National Science Foundation grant, Women and Scientific Literacy: Building Two-Way Streets, from 1996-2000 through which ten colleges and universities incorporated new scholarship on women and gender into the content of science courses and incorporated new questions about science into women’s studies courses. She edited the volume from that NSF project, Gender, Science, and the Undergraduate Curriculum.

Dr. Musil served as Associate Director of AAC&U's major initiative, "American Commitments: Diversity, Democracy, and Liberal Learning," from 1993-2001 and directed its ninety-two institution Curriculum and Faculty Development Network. To enhance that network, she was Project Director of two National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institutes, "Boundaries and Borderlands: The Search for Recognition and Community in America," held at Williams College in 1994 and 1995. Through a William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant, Dr. Musil directed that institute again at Brown University in 2000 for 250 faculty and administrators from 40 institutions.

At La Salle University Dr. Musil taught their first women's studies course in 1973, was instrumental in establishing a women's studies minor, served as Coordinator of the Women's Studies Program, and helped found a campus day care center. In 1984, she was selected as the Executive Director of the National Women's Studies Association, a position she held for over six years. In 1986, she was named a Pennsylvania "Woman of Distinction" by the Women's Campaign Fund and in 1987 was chosen as a Commonwealth Speaker by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. She was named in Who's Who of American Women in 1995.

Areas of Expertise: 
Women in Higher Education, Diversity in Higher Education, Curriculum and Faculty Development, International Education, Civic Engagement