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  • Editorial Introduction
  • Lazarina N. Topuzova and Adrian B. Popa

It is our pleasure to introduce a set of distinctive writings that continue to spotlight the initiatives of the Alliance of Universities for Democracy (AUDEM) and contribute to the flourishing and expanding The International Journal of Higher Education and Democracy. Volume 4 of the journal includes seven articles in three different sections, followed by an interview and three book reviews. The first section is devoted to the journal’s main focus—issues of democracy in the university. The second section looks at civic engagement, and the third provides both a practical and a theoretical perspective on leadership. It has become a tradition for the AUDEM journal to interview a person who is involved in an initiative that, in the coeditors’ view, enhances our understanding of applying democratic principles to education. In this volume, we present our conversation with Dr. Mary McFarland, international director of Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM). The volume concludes with three reviews of books we believe can be useful for educators and scholars across European and U.S. contexts.

In the first article, Alan DeYoung and Galina Valyayeva discuss university autonomy and academic freedom, concepts that are familiar to academics around the world, and investigate how those are construed in Tajikistan’s national policies and among academics. Their article “University Autonomy and Academic Freedom: Are They Included in Transforming Universities in Tajikistan?” presents an engaging narrative about the journey of Tajik higher education reform in adapting and implementing the Bologna Process. Sonia Pavlenko and Cristina Bojan bring to the reader a case study of exercising democracy in Romanian institutions of higher education. “Exercising [End Page 1] Democracy in Universities: The Gap between Words and Actions” considers the difference between the ideal of democracy and its practice in public universities and suggests that to bridge the existing gap, training and resources should focus on instilling democratic values in individuals, as they will in turn affect the institutions they are a part of. The final article in this section brings the perspective of American university faculty. In their article “Undermining Authority: Restoring Intellectual Relevance in an Anti-Intellectual Democracy,” Barbara Nicholson and Teresa Eagle challenge their fellow academics to become engaged in a dialogue with the broader public and create discursive spaces where research is linked with advocacy and encourages and mobilizes people to act in the public interest.

The second section of this volume contains two examples of service learning and civic engagement in U.S.-based classrooms. Christine Cress and Rebecca Duarte present a compelling case for Pedagogía Comunitaria, a constructivist teaching approach, through the case of a service-learning class. The authors compared Latino students’ perceptions of their learning, as well as civic leadership outcomes, to those of non-Latino White students and found that Latino students reported greater gains in leadership development, including commitment to civic responsibility and desire to become a community leader. Similarly, Rosemarie Hunter and Isabel Teresa Molina-Avella discuss service and experiential learning as key in community leadership development. The authors showcase a university-community partnership that can be construed as a successful community leadership intervention where undergraduate students teamed up with leaders of immigrant and refugee backgrounds and worked together to strengthen the local communities.

The third section of this volume is devoted to leadership. Kris Gerhardt and Lamine Diallo begin with an overview of undergraduate curricula in leadership studies and report that although there is variability in required curricular elements, there is also a slow trend toward more standardization. The authors advocate for a move toward an agreed-upon standard for core competencies of leadership, which will ultimately result in a greater recognition of the leadership degree in both the academe and society. In “Leader as Potentiator: Exploring Farther Reaches of Leadership,” Mark McCaslin and McKay Christensen offer a perspective on leadership theory. They elaborate on the role of the leader in growing the capacity of both individuals and organizations to address current and future challenges.

The series of peer-reviewed articles ends with an interview in which the international director of JC:HEM (website) shares a global perspective on the role of educational...