Michigan Minds podcast: U-M President Ono shares vision on democracy and engagement

April 8, 2024

In January 2023, president Santa J. Ono set the university on a path to imagine what aspirations the University of Michigan could achieve in the next 10 years. UM’s Vision 2034 is the outcome of the yearlong strategic visioning process that engaged more than 25,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and local community members.

UM’s vision to be the defining public university outlines four areas where the university will make dramatic and focused impact: life-changing education; human health and well-being; democracy, civic and global engagement; and climate action, sustainability and environmental justice.

One of those impact areas that we’re going to discuss today is democracy, civic and global engagement. And why is this a key priority for the university community?

If you just turn on the television every day and look at what’s happening locally, what’s happening nationally and what’s happening globally, you can see that democracy is under threat. Democracy is under threat in this nation. The well-being of our planet is at risk because of geopolitical tensions. And so I think that a university that has a great law school, who has the Ford School that has a wealth of information about mistakes that we have made as humankind … that we have an opportunity to not only form future leaders who during this 10-year period will develop and populate government locally, nationally and globally. But we also have an opportunity to model proper governance and government and through education, do what we can to reach into K-12 schools so that we have a chance to move the needle to safeguard democracy that we take for granted too often. That’s really important for this nation’s future, but also for global stability.