The Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) is dedicated to fostering open, equitable, and democratic societies through higher education. Located within the Graduate School of Education of the University of Pennsylvania, AHEAD conducts original research and applies a multidisciplinary, research-based approach to address the most pressing issues regarding the societal contributions of higher education in the United States and the world. AHEAD also draws on research to improve institutional practice and public policy by offering technical assistance and professional development activities in the U.S. and around the globe. 

AHEAD achieves this mission by:

  • Creating knowledge about the most effective public policies and institutional practices for maximizing higher education’s contributions to an open, equitable, and democratic society;
  • Building Capacity to institutional leaders and public policymakers seeking to improve the public purpose of higher education;
  • Developing academic leaders who are able to advance these purposes at their institutions through the principles of shared governance and academic freedom;
  • Leading discussion and debate about the most pressing societal issues facing higher education;
  • Promoting the education and training of the next generation of higher education leaders and scholars, so that they may advance their own career interests and promote the common good;
  • Engaging globally with universities, colleges, government ministries, and organizations around the world to promote the public purposes of higher education; and
  • Encouraging collaboration between researchers and senior practitioners.