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About Talloires

Origin and Development

At the beginning of this millennium it was becoming clear that there was 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 2005, Tufts University contributed to remedying this gap by holding the first international conference of university heads to explore the engagement and social responsibility roles of higher education institutions. 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. Discussions centered on ways to tap into the unrealized potential of universities and their students to tackle pressing problems in their societies, and on forging a collective vision for advancing the field of community engagement in higher education worldwide.  Participants drafted and co-signed the Talloires Declaration on the Civic Roles and Social Responsibilities of Higher Education.

Since its founding in 2005, the Network has grown to over 360 member institutions in 77 countries, with a combined student enrollment of over 6 million.

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 start, development of the Network and its expanding programs was guided by a steering committee of higher education leaders from around the world. Today, the Network’s secretariat is based at Tufts University and ICP directs the Network’s Professional Development Institute.

Our Mission

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.

Our Vision

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.


The Network is guided by an elected Steering Committee of 13 members from around the world (current membership comes from 11 countries on 6 continents).  Our secretariat is based at Tufts University.


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. The meeting brought together 29 university presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors from 23 countries.

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. Read the 2005 Conference Report.

Since its founding conference, the Network has grown to over 337 members in 75 countries with a combined enrollment of over 6 million students.  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.

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.

Our Values

  • Respect for mutual learning between institutions of higher education and communities
  • The application of standards of excellence to community engagement work
  • The aspiration for diversity in both our membership and our 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

Our Goals

  • 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 and increase the relevance of higher education
  • Facilitate the creation of regional networks of universities dedicated to civic engagement