Colorado State University and the University of Denver Partner in a Statewide Effort to Define Values for the 21st Century

Colorado State University and the University of Denver today announced the two institutions will sponsor a yearlong, statewide series of events beginning this fall to explore American history, values and expectations for the 21st century in light of the events of Sept. 11.

Colorado State University President Albert C. Yates and University of Denver Chancellor Daniel L. Ritchie today unveiled the design of the program, "Bridges to the Future: American History and Values in Light of September 11th." The project aims to involve people and communities from across Colorado in a dynamic conversation about the nation’s heritage, experiences and values and their significance at home and in the world.

Over the course of the year, "Bridges to the Future" will feature community forums, debates, panel presentations, televised programming and other special events on both campuses and in communities around the state. Colorado Governor Bill Owens and Nobel Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu already have confirmed their participation; additional nationally and internationally renowned speakers and moderators will be announced in the coming weeks.

"As institutions of higher education, we have a responsibility to guide our state in managing the enormous scope and complexity of the issues facing our country and the world," said Ritchie. "This initiative will examine the values that have shaped this nation and involve Coloradans in defining those ideals that will guide the future of our society."

"Sept. 11 caused us to question many aspects of our communities, our lives and families, as well as our roles as citizens of a global society," Yates said. "All basic human institutions and values have been called into a new account and our universities must play a central role in creating a renewed vision of who we are, what we believe and what we can do for our nation and world."

Colorado State University and the University of Denver have established a thematic approach to the "Bridges to the Future" series focused on four content areas: sources and content of American values; the disconnect between values and action; America and the world; and bridges to the future. "Bridges to the Future" will include perspectives offered by a variety of ethnic, social, cultural and religious points of view.

The universities will partner with businesses, civic and service organizations, community leaders, the media, non-profit organizations, public officials, religious leaders, students and others in developing a wide-range of topics and events. All programs will be designed to provide an opportunity for involvement by a broad spectrum of Coloradans. Civic, social and business leaders from across the state will serve as Colorado Ambassadors for the project, encouraging communities and institutions around Colorado to develop programming to engage their constituents in the critical, statewide dialogue. Bridges to the Future will be supported by private donations.

"As we look to the future, this program will help Coloradans clarify the values and commitments we want to uphold as we strive to define a vital future for our state and nation," Ritchie said. "In the post-Sept. 11 world, such a serious examination of American values is as important as any public discussion can be."

"Our universities are striving to develop a framework of quality programs and engagement to inspire the communities of Colorado to honor, remember, understand and renew our shared commitment to public values," Yates said. "We hope to develop a strong, statewide foundation for self-assessment and informed national and global citizenship, as well as model the role of the university in the 21st century."


A Series of Programs to Involve the Communities of Colorado In Understanding and Defining Our Values for the 21st Century

Initiated By
Colorado State University and President Albert C. Yates
University of Denver and Chancellor Daniel L. Ritchie

Announcement: June 2002
Development Phase: Summer 2002
Implementation Phase: September 2002 – August 2003
Evaluation: August 2003

Program Overview & Vision

Colorado State University and the University of Denver are partners in a yearlong, statewide effort to focus our universities outward and engage the people and communities of Colorado, and the nation, in a series of programs to understand and define our collective values for the 21st century.

It is crucially important to understand the basis of core American values and to examine their relevance and need for ongoing adaptation in terms of our rapidly and constantly changing nation and world. This initiative is not an academic exercise but rather an effort by the communities of Colorado to address the values that have shaped our nation and define those values that will guide our country in a diverse and interdependent world.

Programs beginning in September 2002 – including speeches by world leaders, discussions, debates, panel presentations, community forums, seminars, publications, televised programming, electronic resources, and other special events – will be thoughtful, ambitious, and civil and will set in motion a series of understandings and actions to generate sustained change that will make our state, nation, and world a better place for all.

All programs will provide an opportunity for involvement by a broad spectrum of Coloradans from communities across the state. In the broadest sense, we want to create a framework of quality programs and engagement to inspire the communities of Colorado and our campuses to honor, to remember, to understand, and to renew our most fundamental public value commitments. We seek to clarify and confirm our personal and collective values and the understandings we use to define and express ourselves as a people and as global citizens.

Bridging from September 11th

September 11, 2001, was a day that caused us to reflect on and question many aspects of our nation and world, our lives and families, our plans and priorities, and our roles as citizens of a global society. Only now are we able to begin to account for all that has become both clear and different in light of that tragic day. All of our basic human institutions and values are called into a new accounting by this event – a need for a renewed vision of who we are, what we believe, and what we can do for our nation and the world.

In the post-September 11th world, a serious examination and understanding of the evolution of American values is as important as any discussion can be. During this year, citizens and communities of Colorado will address the public values Americans hold as "self-evident" in light of this historic event, asking what new and renewed values and commitments are demanded for the days ahead.

Program Framework

The framework and program leadership for Bridges to the Future is provided by the partner universities. Following this framework, individual program elements will be developed by the universities and may also originate from citizens a and communities of Colorado. The framework:

  • Sources and Content of American Values:
    Efforts to move forward require clarity about where we have come from and what we still value. The programs will also take into consideration those institutions that contribute to the formation of our individual and societal values. For example, sources and content may include:
    • Community
    • Country
    • Culture, Heritage, and Ethnicity
    • Education
    • Home and Family
    • The Media
    • Religion
    • And other sources relevant to our collective values


    • Democracy
    • Diversity
    • Equality
    • Free Enterprise
    • Fundamental Human Rights (self-governance, justice, privacy, speech, assembly, religious freedom, etc.)
    • Moral Framework
    • And other content relevant to our collective values
  • The Disconnect Between Values and Action: In structuring this yearlong, statewide program, a critique of what we value, and how we have succeeded or failed to live up to these values, will be directly and honestly addressed.
  • America in the World: Throughout the year, we seek to understand that our values have an impact on not only ourselves, but also the global community. How these values are perceived by other nations and how they influence our relationships with the rest of the world should be examined for better understanding.
  • Bridges to the Future: Bridges to the Future balances a scrutiny of the disconnects between the nation’s public values and the realities of today’s changing global landscape. If the efforts of this yearlong, statewide initiative succeed, it will be because this program has engaged the public in focusing on who and what we aspire to become in the 21st century.


To be successful, this initiative must incorporate the communities and citizens of Colorado, including a broad cross-section of race/ethnicity, gender and age groups, as well as intellectual, social, cultural, and religious heritages. Groups and audiences include:

  • Citizens of Colorado and the nation
  • Business, private, and public sector communities
  • Civic, social, and service organizations
  • Community leaders
  • Members of the media
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Public and private educational institutions
  • Public officials
  • Religious communities
  • Students – K-12, vocational, and college/university
  • Students at the partner universities