The Talloires Network is an international association of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. We work together to implement the recommendations of the Talloires Declaration and build a global movement of engaged universities.
We believe that higher education institutions do not exist in isolation from society, nor from the communities in which they are located. The Talloires Network envisions universities around the world as a vibrant and dynamic force in their societies, incorporating civic engagement and community service into their research and teaching mission.
- Respect for mutual learning between institutions of higher education and communities
- Application of standards of excellence to community engagement work
- Aspiration for diversity in both membership and approach to civic engagement
- Empowerment of individuals and groups to strengthen relationships between higher education and society
- Scholarly recognition of the value of service and action in teaching and research
- Expand higher education civic engagement programs through teaching, research, and public service
- Apply higher education standards of excellence and peer review to community engagement
- Foster partnerships between institutions of higher education and communities to empower groups and individuals to tackle societal issues and shape the future of higher education
- Facilitate the creation of regional networks of universities dedicated to civic engagement
The Network is guided by an elected Steering Committee of 13 members from around the world (current membership comes from 12 countries on 6 continents). Our secretariat is based at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, United States of America.
The beginning of this millennium witnessed a global trend toward greater engagement of universities with their communities, characterized by systemic efforts to mobilize the expertise and person power of these institutions to address pressing societal needs. However, there was limited international coordination and exchange on such issues among the heads of universities.
In September 2005, Tufts University convened the Talloires Conference 2005, the first international gathering of the heads of universities devoted to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. Held at the Tufts European Center in the alpine village of Talloires, France, the conference brought together 29 university presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors from 23 countries around the world. Convened by then Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow, the conference was organized by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts and by Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP).
Although the conference participants represented starkly different contexts and types of universities, they found that they embraced very similar visions and strategic orientations. The conference produced the Talloires Declaration on the Civic Roles and Social Responsibilities of Higher Education. All signatories of the Declaration have committed their institutions to educating for social responsibility and civic engagement, and to strengthening the application of university resources to the needs of local and global communities.
From 2005 to 2011, Tisch College at Tufts and ICP worked together to provide secretariat services for the Network and to foster its development. From its beginning, development of the Network and its expanding programs has been guided by a steering committee of higher education leaders from around the world.
In 2011, over 200 vice chancellors, rectors, presidents and other senior staff members gathered in Madrid for the second Talloires Network Leaders Conference to exchange experiences and best practices, and to envision the next stage of our movement.
The Youth Economic Participation Initiative (YEPI) was founded in 2013. This groundbreaking program supports and gathers learnings from eight university-based youth entrepreneurship programs across the globe. These sites, based in places as diverse as Chile, Pakistan, and Burkina Faso, provide a clear opportunity to create effective working collaborations across continents. TN Connects was launched in 2015 to function as an online community of practice to support YEPI.
In 2013, the Talloires Network and the Autonomous University of Madrid launched the pilot edition of the University Volunteers Program. With financial support from Santander Universities, this program creates an opportunity for South-South student volunteer exchanges centered around civic service and social responsibility. This program seeks to create working relationships between civically-engaged students in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Spain.
Our third global conference was held in December 2014, in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 200 university leaders and civic engagement practitioners participated in this gathering, which included productive conversations on topics such as action community-based research, youth entrepreneurship, and fundraising for university civic engagement.
Since its founding conference, the Network has grown to over 350 members in 77 countries with a combined enrollment of over 6 million students. For an account of the origins, work to date and future of the Network, see “The Talloires Network: A Global Coalition of Engaged Universities,” published by the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement. The network secretariat is based at Tufts University.