Public Statement

Statement on Ukraine

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We are saddened and outraged by the resulting loss of life, and we express our sympathy and solidarity with all those caught up in the humanitarian crisis now unfolding.

The war in Ukraine is an especially horrific and consequential flash point in the ongoing rise of authoritarianism globally. Authoritarianism takes root and spreads under conditions where personal liberty and freedom of thought and expression are surrendered in favor of unquestioned obedience to authority, where the democratic values of diversity and inclusion give way to exclusionary and chauvinistic tendencies.

Higher education has a vital role to play in this global moment. We know that higher education—liberal arts education, in particular—is an effective safeguard against the development and spread of authoritarianism. As the form of education most closely allied to democracy, liberal education helps students form the habits of heart and mind that liberate them; it equips them for, and disposes them to, civic involvement and the creation of a more just and inclusive society. A liberal education both embodies and transmits democratic norms and values. Authoritarianism cannot flourish among a liberally educated people.

As a global membership organization dedicated to advancing the democratic purposes of higher education, AAC&U is committed to strengthening the vitality and public standing of liberal education and to ensuring that the benefits of such an education are extended to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career and regardless of where they study.