Posts Tagged 'Constitution Day'

Highlights from a Month Ago Today (i.e., Constitution Day 2013)

A month ago today, we celebrated Constitution Day, and we wanted to take a moment to share with you a couple of cool things from our campuses, as well as what the National Constitution Center was up to.

Florida Gulf Coast University, sent us this video, highlighting one of its Constitution Day events.

And, The College at Brockport held an ADP-sponsored on-campus Naturalization Ceremony; for more information and pictures of the event, click here.

The National Constitution Center (who you should totally follow on Instagram at @constitutionctr) hosted a photo contest that invited people to share their photos of what being an active citizen means to them using #NCCActiveCitizen on Instagram and Twitter, Some pretty cool pics resulted; be sure to check them out.

What ADP Campuses Do on Constitution Day

At the end of August, we emailed our ADP campus coordinators to inquire how their campuses were celebrating Constitution Day (which is tomorrow by the way), and today, we bring you some of the results.

2013 Constitution Day Query Results

What we wanted to know:

  1. What plans does your campus have to celebrate and/or educate students this Constitution Day?
  2. What goals and/or learning outcomes do you have for your planned Constitution Day programming?
  3. Who or what organization on your campus is responsible for planning and implementing Constitution Day celebrations or educational events/programs? What other campus organizations/departments are involved or consulted?
  4. What resources do you plan to use (campus, community, or national) for Constitution Day activities and events?
  5. Website related to Constitution Day (if there is one) and fliers, agendas, or additional materials

@ Missouri State:

  1. We will have David Mercer, First Assistant Federal Defender for the Western District of Missouri, who will speak in a public forum titled “Gideon v. Wainwright: Legal Issues and the Right to Counsel.”  We will also be posting “Fascinating Constitution Facts” hourly  throughout the day on our Facebook and university webpage.  These will include a constitution quiz, as well as the facts.  We will also be conducting a voter registration drive throughout the week, encouraging students to register to vote and exercise their constitutional rights.  Constitution Day is always a part of our Annual Public Affairs Week– a week of activity developed by students for students.
  2. For our students to understand and participate actively in exercising their constitutional rights
  3. The Office of Public Affairs Support is ultimately in charge of the celebration.  We work in collaboration with our Office of Student Engagement.
  4. We have used resources provided by the ADP.  We also are working together with the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, which is sponsoring and hosting our speaker.
  5.; interesting facts and the quiz will be located on our Facebook Page Public Affairs at Missouri State University

@ Metropolitan State University of Denver:

  1. Metropolitan State University of Denver will celebrate Constitution Day by hosting a public educational forum featuring a member of the history department faculty, a representative from the ACLU and Mark Ferrandino, Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives.
  2. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the history of religious liberty, from what the founders originally envisioned to how the issues play out today with respect to church, state and lawmaking, .
  3. The history department at MSU Denver has collaborated with the Community College of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver to organize our Constitution Day event.
  4. We will be using campus facilities for Constitution Day activities.

@ Illinois State University:

  1. We have planned an event featuring U.S. District Judge Michael P. McCuskey who will be discussing “The Constitutional Law of Mandatory Minimum Federal Sentences: How Congress has Diminished Judicial Discretion in Sentencing.”
  2. We hope to engage students in a discussion about  the role of each branch of government in federal sentencing and about the larger question of separation of powers.
  3. The American Democracy Project leadership team at Illinois State University is responsible for planning this Constitution Day event. The Office of the Provost is also very involved in the planning process.
  4. We plan to use campus resources for this event.

@ St. Cloud State University:

  1. Our ADP is sponsoring two tables in the student union mall area, in which social studies majors will be conducting a survey of students knowledge of the Constitution and a brief competition.  We have patriotic pins, bracelets, pens, necklaces and pocket constitutions etc. to give to all who participate.
  2. We want to see what the average student on our campus knows about the U.S. Constitution and will print our findings in the school paper.  If the numbers are low, we plan on lobbying the administration for more civic education courses/programs.
  3. The School of Public Affairs, our ADP and the Social Studies Education Program
  4. All resources will come from our own campus.

@ University of Minnesota Duluth:

  1. We are passing out pocket constitutions to students while dressed in colonial-era clothing.  We have a booth for people to register to vote.  We are hosting a panel discussion featuring politicians and other public figures to look at the issue of voter ID laws in order to help students and community members gain a well-rounded perspective on the issue.
  2. We hope that our events, especially the panel, will help to educate our community about the issue of voter ID laws. We hope that by presenting all sides of the issue, attendees will be able to make informed decisions. We hope that this panel will help our community members become more engaged in the political process, and we hope that this will help to create dialogue about the issue on campus and in the community.
  3. Office of Civic Engagement  Center for Ethics and Public Policy  Minnesota Public Interest Research Group
  4. Departmental Funds, Campus Facilities

@ University of Missouri – St. Louis:

  1. Our campus will discuss student activism on college campuses and how use of First Amendment rights is changing with the introduction of varying types of technology and emerging social media opportunities.
  2. Our goal is to connect current students with faculty, students and alumni who have been or are currently involved in some form of community or political activism and discuss the importance of engagement with one’s government processes in order to make an impact in the immediate community and beyond. We will also provide small-group discussion opportunities so that participants may network with others.
  3. Department of Political Science, Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, Volunteer Services, Office of Student Life, Department of Public Policy Administration
  4. Campus and community

@ Kennesaw State University:

  1. We have Constitution Week for the seventh year in a row. Our theme this year is Sustainability. We will be have three experts
  2. Understanding of Sustainability issues such as GMO’s, city planning, resource allocations, hunger, food shortage and community organizing
  3. KSU American Democracy Project, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Institute of Responsible Technology, KSU Department of Sustainability, Morehouse College School of Medicine

@ California University of Pennsylvania:

  1. General Colin Powell is the keynote speaker at the  Pittsburgh Leadership & Diversity Conference, which is being held on Septemebr 19 at Cal U.   Constitution Day is a tribute to Gen. Powell’s leadership.
  2. Constitution Day will educate students about the duties and responsibilities of presidential appointees, specifically the office of secretary of state and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The primary focus will be on Gen. Powell’s leadership in both pubic and private life.
  3. The following offices and programs are involved in the planning of this year’s Constitution Day:  the American Democracy Project, the Linda and Harry Serene Leadership Institute, the Office of the Provost/Academic Affairs, the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of History & Political Science and the Department of Justice, Law & Society.
  4. Campus facilities will be used.
  5. The event is posted on the ADP website  Next week, it will appear on the Cal U homepage carousel and a press release will be issued.

@ Ferris State University

  1. Ferris State University is conducting a panel discussion on the First Amendment freedom of freedom of speech.
  2. 1). Students learn the meaning of freedom of speech  2). Students learn the challenges for protecting this freedom  3). Students learn the importance of protecting this freedom
  3. The Ferris State University American Democracy Project and Political Engagement Project
  4. 1). Ferris campus facilities  2). Ferris informational media  3). University educational experts

@ Florida Gulf Coast University:

  1. Conversations on the Constitution: Voting Rights Act Reconsidered (Panel discussion and dialogue of how the SCOTUS decision impacts FL), and the  SGA will pass out pocket constitutions
  2. De-mystify basic constitutional principles, encourage students to consider the constitutional significance of the recent SCOTUS decision relating to the VRA of 1965
  3. Office of Undergraduate Studies  &  Interdisciplinary Studies
  4. Campus

@ Middle Tennessee University

  1. SCALES – Tenn, Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education  – is coming to MTSU, holding court on campus, hearing three supreme court cases. All briefs are posted to the ADP MTSU website for students and faculty. Classes are studying the issues with members of the Tenn. Bar Assn. in preparation for court. The arguing attorneys will debrief the students after the hearing. Students will meet the Supreme Court justices over lunch and at the end of the day.  2. Read-aloud Constitution readings in every college.  3. Campus-wide debate on immigration issues that night.   4. Voter registration all over campus that day and on 9/24, in conjunction with LWV, Tenn. Citizen Action, and campus student orgs.
  2. Knowledge, visibility
  3. ADP, all deans of all the colleges, Forensics Team, College Dems and Raider Repubs, Provost’s Office, Center for Historic Preservation, the university lawyer-faculty from every college and EXL faculty
  4. Campus + community

@ Weber State University:

  1. We are planning a week of activities:

    • September 16 – Voter registration booth
    • September 17 – Birthday Cake and handing out constitutions
    • September 18 – video presentation of student knowledge of the Constitution (based on a kind of Jay-walking)
    • September 19 – NYT reporter Brian Stelter will be on campus presenting on Social Media’s Impact on Governments 
    • September 20 – Senator Mike Lee will be coming to speak to students

  2. Increase awareness of the Constitution and its part in our history.
  3. American Democracy Project; co-hosting with the NYT for our Reporter and the Olene Walker Institute for Senator Mike Lee
  4. National, campus and statewide.

Additionally, we hear that there is a Constitution Day essay contest in the works at the University of North Georgia, and we have agreed to host the winning essay on our blog, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

With that, we wish you all a very happy (and for Colorado, a very dry) Constitution Day tomorrow! And, if you’re wearing colonial-era clothing, please send us pics (to Stephanie at; in fact, please just send us cool Constitution Day photos in general.



This Tuesday Is Constitution Day 2013

Are you ready?

Have you looked at our resources?

  • More information can be found on our ADP page dedicated to Constitution day; to visit that page, click here.
  • Ideas for campus programming gleaned from years past can be found on our ADP blog; to visit the blog, click here.

If you’re an ADP Campus Coordinator, have you told us what’s happening on your campus?

If not, please fill out the survey here.

It’s Coming…Constitution Day 2013

On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, we will be celebrating Constitution Day, which commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by the 39 Founding Fathers on Sept. 17, 1787.

With the semester underway and the date rapidly approaching, we wanted to both remind you of the date and offer some resources that may be of use to you in your planning process.

  • More information can be found on our ADP page dedicated to Constitution day; to visit that page, click here.
  • Ideas for campus programming gleaned from years past can be found on our ADP blog; to visit the blog, click here.

ADP Campus Coordinators, please be on the lookout for a survey from ADP National later today  regarding your plans for this Constitution Day.

Campus Spotlight: UCO’s Constitution Week Programming 2012

University of Central Oklahoma: Constitution Week Programming: September 17-21, 28, 2012

By Mary Carver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mass Communication and Leadership and Civic Engagement, Susan Scott, Ed.D., Professor of Educational Sciences, Foundations, and Research and American Democracy Project Student Organization Faculty Sponsor, and Emily Griffin Overocker, Director of Transfer Student Support and Co-Chair of the Naturalization Ceremony Committee

Constitution Week activities hosted by the American Democracy Project and Academic Affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma included a variety of activities which involved students, faculty, staff and the Oklahoma City community. It was a memorable week in big and small ways.

UCO Voter Registration Contest

UCO Voter Registration Contest

On Constitution Day we kicked off a voter registration drive. Each year Oklahoma Campus Compact sponsors a voter registration contest for universities across the state. Schools compete to see who can register the highest percentage of voters, with awards given in the small, medium and large school divisions. Efforts throughout the campus resulted in the registration of 1060 voters, 7.9 percent of the student body.

Students, faculty and staff came together to promote and assist with the voter registration drive.  The UCO American Democracy Project coordinated with students in the Leadership and Civic Engagement course, Pi Sigma Alpha (the political science honor society), Success Central courses, U.S. history courses, the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, the Women’s Outreach Center, Alpha Phi Alpha and Greek Life, Max Chambers Library, University Relations, the Wellness Center, Central 360 student TV station, The Vista student newspaper, and student housing to make the week a success. Students, staff and faculty worked together across campus to ensure as many people as possible were reached. It was amazing to see so many different people in different departments, colleges and areas of campus come together to be involved in this one goal.

As UCO student, Jerrah explained, “Helping with the voter registration drive on UCO’s campus was an experience that enabled me to truly understand the impact of holding other students accountable for their civic involvement as citizens of such a blessed nation. The fact that we won shows how much UCO students care about their communities and the decisions that impact them: living Central means engaging in and caring about our communities and their leaders!” Our efforts paid off, as UCO won the Oklahoma Campus Compact voter registration contest large school division for a third year in a row. More importantly, a thousand more Oklahomans will be more likely to vote in November.

Constitution Week celebrations ended with 118 individuals from thirty-three countries taking the Oath of Allegiance at the University of Central Oklahoma. The event had multiple components, all designed to recognize and honor our newest citizens. Four federal judges, Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Judge David L Russell, Judge Stephen P.Friot, and Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti from the US District Court, Western District of Oklahoma presided over the court. President Don Betz delivered a welcome that included the central role of civic engagement, global citizenship and responsibility, and the American Democracy Project on campus.

The Citizenship and Immigration Services presented the 118 applicants to the court for citizenship and Court Clerk Robert Dennis administered the Oath of Allegiance to their new country. In a moving show of allegiance, the applicants stood and recited the oath as it was written on their programs. To hear their voices as they renounced their former countries of origin could only cause pause to those of us who are born U.S. citizens as we contemplated the serious and life changing moment.

Students at the University of Central Oklahoma participated in the naturalization ceremony in several ways. Our ultimate goal was

US Courts, Western District of Oklahoma 2

US Courts, Western District of Oklahoma 2

to provide a transformative learning experience for our students, while honoring our new citizens through service learning. This was accomplished several ways. First a small Citizenship Fair was set up and information related to the students’ programs were provided to our new citizens and their families.

Two courses created projects for the new citizens. One course, a computer class, designed buttons for the new citizens to wear. The other course designed a personalized souvenir notecard and the students wrote welcome notes to each new citizen. Members of the class hand delivered the notecards. Corrie, one of the students who wrote a card said, “I hoped to make the new citizens feel welcome and accepted when they read our cards. I also wanted to show them that they should be very proud of their accomplishment.”

Finally, one of the UCO leadership courses volunteered to serve as hosts and helpers from the beginning to the end. They took great effort to serve the new citizens and their families in so many ways including helping them register to vote. They personally went to each new citizen and provided them with voter registration information. Their friendly faces helped the new citizens feel welcomed and honored. One student, Amber said, “It was so unique to see new citizens so excited about their citizenship and so thrilled to get to vote in this year’s election.”

Karla Dougherty, new citizen

The naturalization ceremony was well attended by the UCO community. Sarah, UCO student said, “Watching the ceremony made me feel really thankful that I was born in America, so I naturally have my citizenship.  I realized that so many people work very hard to become citizens of this country. I feel very blessed.”  (Watch ceremony here.) She goes on to share why she felt hosting a naturalization ceremony at our university is important, “Students at a university are learning, not only to expand their scholarly knowledge, but to expand their views on the world as well. The world is a very complex place with so many different types of people.  Seeing a naturalization ceremony is a good way to for students to witness the diversity that makes up our great country.”

As we prepared for the naturalization ceremony many of the students took time to understand the arduous and costly process. It also provided a time for self-reflection where one considered their own citizenship. At the same time, one new citizen, Aura, shared that the experience was professional and touching. She also went on to say that her new U. S. citizenship provides stability and a great place to raise her son. Those of us born in the United States and who attend UCO were given a rare glimpse of the journey to naturalized citizenship through the stories and faces of those who take on this quest. It was transformative, not only for the new citizens, but for those of us who participated in the naturalization ceremony with them.

To learn more about ADP at UCO, go here.

ADP Campuses Celebrate Constitution Day 2011

By Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project

This year Constitution Day – September 17 – falls on a Saturday, so ADP campuses will be celebrating Constitution Day today, Friday, September 16 and throughout the weekend and into next week (others have been celebrating all this week).

Constitution Day, formally known as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787 and celebrates natural and naturalized American citizens.

Cal U's Kids Talk Democracy

In honor of Constitution Day, ADP colleges and universities have planned a plethora of educational events and activities. 28 campuses responded to our recent online query about planned Constitution Day programming; these responses are summarized below. I hope this post provides your campus with ideas for future Constitution Day programming!

For additional information about Constitution Day, please visit the ADP Website.

Let us know what your campus did to celebrate Constitution Day by commenting on this blog post or by emailing a short summary to

California University of Pennsylvania

Cal U is hosting sixth-grade students from Ben Franklin Elementary School, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, for “Kids Talk Democracy II.” The video–a takeoff of Cecilia Orphan’s project–was so successful that the ADP decided to bring youngsters to campus. The students are being selected on the basis of class essays. Cal U is encouraging the entire university community to attend, but is especially interested in having Elementary Education majors hear and see the students. For more information, go here.

Clayton State University

Clayton State has a number of Constitution Day Observance Events planned, including a keynote address on “Slavery and the Constitution,” by the president of the Georgia Humanities Council; a Constitutional Debate staged by the Clayton State debate team on whether naturalized citizens should be allowed to be President of the U.S. and whether national officeholders should meet ethical qualifications; a New York Times Talk, “This Should Hurt Only a Little: The 8th Amendment and the Search for a Perfect Poison”; a service learning series discussion on public health; a community service project; a voter registration drive; and citizenship tests. For more information, go here.

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky will sponsor three events: a guest speaker, a Constitutional trivia contest, and a panel discussion of possible constitutional revisions. EKU wants to promote increased knowledge/awareness of constitutional provisions and controversies and increased campus engagement.

Emporia State University

Emporia State University will host a creative program on September 14th in Bruder Theater on the ESU campus. The improvisational comedy group called Zioks is wildly popular on our campus and the idea is to have Zioks go through comedy skits followed by comments from a panel of professors. ESU’s goals for Constitution Day are to raise awareness and promote deeper thought related to the U.S. Constitution. This year the American Democracy Project is collaborating with the Associated Student Government, Community Hornets, and Zoiks to provide Constitution Day programming. For more information on Zoiks, go here.

Ferris State University

Former U.S. Representative Pete Hoestra (Holland, Michigan) will conduct a public presentation concerning “9/11 Ten Years After” for the campus and the community. Ferris State hopes to engage students and the Big Rapids, MI community in reflection upon the aftermath of 9/11 and its impacts upon American democracy and the U.S. Constitution a decade later. The American Democracy Project and its Political Engagement Project are sponsoring this event.

Florida Gulf Coast University

We will be partnering with the community to offer our version of an Eat Free or Live Free event where students and community members give up their 1st Amendment rights in return for a free meal. Actors from the community will interact with attendees by having them experience life without these rights. The dinner will be followed by a sneak-peek of Ken Burns’ newest documentary: Prohibition and a panel discussion. FGCU hopes to foster knowledge of 1st Amendment rights and a discussion of the government’s role in our lives (past, present, and future). Student government, the Office of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement and WGCU are sponsoring these events. WGCU received a national grant from the National Center for Media Engagement to preview the Burns documentary.

Georgia College

A keynote address, Religion and the U.S. Constitution will be delivered by a law school dean. Several student organizations are developing a video-journalism project with a discussion. Georgia College wants students to understand how the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state and disestablishment clauses do not preclude the ongoing need to clarify the role of religion in American society. For more information, click here.

Illinois State University

We will have a guest speaker (Roger Newman from Columbia University). More information is available here.  ISU is combining Constitution Day with their Civic Engagement Celebration where they present their Civic Engagement Award. ISU hopes to get students and faculty thinking about the importance of the U.S. Constitution.

Lander University

Placards will be placed around campus with civic engagement questions; posters will be provided for students to answers these questions. Students will also be asked to enter their responses to the question “What is an American” in the Lander student center’s lobby. Lander University hopes to foster increased discussion and debate about American constitutional principles and an awareness of politics and how it matters. These events will also serve as a kick-off for a campus “Civility Initiative” that will feature speakers and events throughout the 2011-12 academic year.

Metropolitan State University

MSU’s 7th annual Constitution Day will include: a panel of “Constitutional Myth Busters: Fact, Fiction or Somewhere in between? With constitutional law professors, political scientists, and former state supreme court justices; a get your Constitution fun facts booklet and crossword puzzle – completed/correct puzzles will be drawn for prizes; a viewing of the video “Justice Matters” at the library twice a day for a week; a library display of Constitutional books, references, and resources; activities at the public library for k-12 students and their families. MSU’s goals include: increasing awareness of history of and living relevance of the U.S. constitution; having fun with history and growing knowledge in a community-based setting; including many partners in Constitution day events; highlighting the diversity and inclusiveness of our understanding and utilization of the U.S. Constitution in a metropolitan area; and building capacity across the university community for participating in the processes and procedures of a democratic society. Partners include: The Center for Community Based Learning (soon to be renamed the Institute for Civic Engagement and Scholarship), Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center, Student Life and Leadership Development Office, Student Senate, GEMS, Leadership and Mentoring Program, The Metropolitan, student newspaper, University Activities Board, Diversity Learning Task Force, Fall Fest committee, and the Development Office’s 40th Anniversary event.

Middle Tennessee State University

MTSU’s Centennial Constitution Week’s theme is Constitutional Responsibility and Civil Society. MTSU has a number of programs planned including an exhibit on John Adams, a student art show with posters of Constitutional ideals, a panel discussion on John Adams: A Lasting Legacy, and a lecture on “Civility, the Constitution, and the Courts.” Students will be able to register to vote, to screen-print t-shirts with Constitution-inspired designs, and to print their own copies of the First Amendment on the University’s replica 18th century printing press. For more information, go here.

Millersville University

MTSU hopes to inspire increased student participation in, ownership of, and direct personal involvement with Constitution Day. They have planned a number of activities, starting with a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and including a voter registration drive, a Constitution Lecture, a symposium on understanding the immigrant experience; a Congress to Campus program, and an international policy conference on securing the future.

Missouri State University

Constitution Day will be part of a week-long group of activities within MSU’s Public Affairs Week. Specifically for Constitution Day we will have various students and administrators reading the Preamble and Bill of Rights of the Constitution in our food court of the student union. For more information, go here. Pocket Constitutions will also be distributed at this event. Also on this website there is a link to a Constitution Day “game” provided to us by a local banking institution. MSU wants students to be aware of the many faces that make up their community and of how the Constitution applies to everyone.

Northwestern State University

NSU will host a Constitution Day Panel Discussion with three professors and audience participation. An art class also produced posters with various themes related to the Constitution which will be displayed around campus. NSU hopes to foster campus and public engagement via discussion of vital Constitutional issues of the day and to via the impact of visual art (posters) with brief introduction by the art professor.

Stephen F. Austin State University

As part of Constitution Day celebrations, the American Democracy Project at Stephen F. Austin State University will host “The U.S. Constitution in a Post-9/11 World” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15. Dr. Steve Galatas, ADP campus coordinator will serve as the moderator of a panel of SFA faculty members, from political science, criminal justice, and public administration. For more information, go here.

SUNY Brockport

SUNY Brockport will host an on-campus naturalization ceremony. Brockport will also distribute the citizenship test to students and use campus media to promote the event in order to emphasize the importance of the Constitution.

Towson University

Towson University will be celebrating the observed Constitution Week (September 16- 22) with a programmed event every day (except for the weekend). On Constitution Day (9/16/11), we will be tabling around campus, providing students with free pocket-sized Constitutions, encouraging them to fill out voter registration forms and spreading awareness on what is happening during Constitution Week. We will be engaging students in conversation and providing relevant prizes to those who answer our questions about the Constitution correctly. On September 19th, we are co-sponsoring the Federal Depository Library celebration in order to honor Towson’s library as a new depository for United States publications. On September 20th, we are co-sponsoring an event about Human Trafficking. There will be guest speakers present and focused on discussing human trafficking issues in the Baltimore area. On September 21st, we will be hosting a Talk Israel event with Hillel, celebrating the freedom of assembly, creating a welcoming venue that addresses the challenges ahead, stressing civil dialogue and inquiry. On September 22nd, there will be a book talk: Immigration and Women: Understanding the American Experience. Also, on the 22nd we will be hosting a New York Times Talk Lunch that focuses on freedom of religion in our country. Towson is focused primarily on empowering student to realize and utilize their individual rights and freedoms as citizens.

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith

The University of Arkansas – Forth Smith will host Constitution Week, September 12-16. Programming includes a talk by Eddie Armstrong about “Remembering 9/11,” and an open forum with panelists from legal firms, law enforcement, human resources, and marketing.  Additional events include quiz bowls pitting students against university personnel, a voter registration drive, and opinion tables. For more information, go here.

University of Central Missouri

UCM will host a week of Constitution Day events, including a panel on International Student Perspectives on the U.S. Constitution, a discussion between the College Democrats and College Republicans on their views on amending the Constitution, a talk on predicting the 2012 Presidential Election outcomes, and a book talk on A More Perfect Constitution by Larry Sabato. There will also be a Constitution Trivia challenge and a Times Talk. UCM’s focus this year is on amendments. UCM wants students to understand that the Constitution changes through formal and informal ways and that they as citizens can have an active role in defining it. UCM also wants students to become more comfortable with civil discourse, and thus it has created several activities which will juxtapose different viewpoints of the Constitution, how it should be interpreted, and if and how it should be amended.

University of Central Oklahoma

The University of Central Oklahoma will participate in the Oklahoma Campus Compact voter registration contest September 12-16. In addition, we will send teams to the National Conference on Citizenship and the Campus Compact Heartland Conference with plans to coordinate a live feed from NCoC with small group discussions on campus. Last year we hosted a special naturalization ceremony on campus. We will do this again in 2012. This year we will focus on strengthening citizenship with the voter registration drive and the National Conference on Citizenship.

University of Maryland Baltimore County

UMBC will host a talk on civil rights and equality in multiracial America by Dr. Jane Junn of the University of Southern California. UMBC hopes to foster community engagement and an awareness of the ongoing relevance of constitutional issues.

University of Minnesota Duluth

UMD will host a week-long series of events including a film and discussion concerning the fine line between political speech/actions and those designed to incite violence, and a panel with local civic leaders. UMD will hand out pocket Constitutions and there will be quizzes on American Government and History for prizes, a library display, and a “What is Democracy?” wall. UMD wants to raise awareness about the Constitution and what it actually says as well as its influences on our everyday lives.

University of Nebraska at Omaha

UNO is planning three events the week of September 12-16. On September 12, a panel presentation by university political science and public administration faculty members will address the topic: “The Debt Ceiling and the Constitution”. On Tuesday September 13, Linda Duckworth of the Omaha chapter of the League of Women Voters will be portraying Susan B. Anthony and giving a presentation in the student center on her efforts to secure voting rights for women. On the September 16, Dr. Lucas Morel of Washington and Lee University will be giving a public lecture entitled: “Lincoln and the Constitution: A Unionist for the Sake of Liberty.” UNO hopes to increase students’ knowledge of the history and meaning of the U.S. Constitution and bring the campus and greater Omaha community together for dialogue about the Constitution and its historical and contemporary relevance.

University of Northern Iowa

Coleen Rowley, former FBI agent, and one of the 2002 Time Persons of the Year, is giving an evening presentation on how to maintain our civil liberties and fight terrorism, and is presenting at a half-day workshop for middle school students on the Constitution (on our campus), and is doing a session on ethics. Students in a leadership class have as their class project the task of designing a Constitution Day activity for 2012. UNI’s hope is to educate people, including students, about the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will celebrate Constitution Day with a variety of activities and events including a Constitution Day dunk tank, the distribution of cupcakes and pocket Constitutions, reading aloud of the Constitution, and a lecture by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. For more information, go here. Oshkosh wants to increase awareness of Constitutional issues and to increase knowledge of components of U.S. Constitution.

West Texas A&M University

West Texas A&M University will host Constitution Day at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum attached to the university. 500+ school children will participate in activities involving a proposed constitutional amendment.

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University has several events planned, including a Constitutional essay contest with the topic “Is/Should there be a constitutional right to a minimum level of subsistence?” and a public forum about the Constitution and poverty issues. Students will be dressing up in colonial attire and walking around campus passing out pocket Constitutions and asking trivia questions. For more information, go here. WCU wants to raise awareness about the importance of the Constitution, its foundations, and allow for critical thinking about how the Constitution applies to contemporary issues.

Western Illinois University

Western Illinois University will host a panel on the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. WIU wants to help students learn about the context of the 4th Amendment and its current applications.

Western Kentucky University

WKU’s Constitution Week this year was themed “The Tenth Anniversary of 9/11: Lessons Learned.” Events included a lecture on “Lessons Not Learned from 9/11: An Economic, Numerate, Constitutional Perspective.” Other programming included a film about Muslim youth dealing with prejudice, diversity, and other 9/11 related issues, a student engagement fair with campus and community organizations, and a discussion about the “Perceptions and Realities of WKU Middle Eastern Students Post 9/11.” For a Constitution Week Wrap-up, go here. WKU’s Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility also hosted an American and Saudi Arabian exchange, where women from both cultures came together Monday night to discuss topics such as what it’s like to be a Muslim woman, women’s rights, marriage, and cultural stereotypes. For more about the exchange, go here.

William Paterson University

William Paterson University is hosting their seventh annual public address on a current topic of controversy with Constitutional dimensions. This year: USA Inc(arcerated): Crime, Punishment & the Constitution with a speaker from the Center for Constitutional Rights and two expert faculty members from our campus. WPU seeks to raise the level of awareness of the crime and punishment provisions of the U.S. Constitution and connect them to the problem presented by the problem of mass incarceration in the U.S., i.e. the U.S. has the highest incarcerations rates of any capitalist democracy in the world. We are also commencing the event with a moment of silence to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Winona State University

Winona State is hosting Harry Boyte on Monday, September 19 for an address on the “We the People” initiative on college campuses and in local communities and active citizenship and engagement for pubic learning and scholarship. In addition Winona State will distribute pocket constitutions and a replica of the U.S. Constitution will be on display in the Library Rotunda. We have also extended Constitution day events to contribute and co-sponsor a presentation on Monday, September 25, 2011 by Dr. Dan Byman of Georgetown University on the Arab Spring. Winona State wants as many university and community members to attend, with the hopes of encouraging more interest and involvement in the We the People and ADP events, especially in the development of civic agency in the university and surrounding communities.

Let us know what your campus did to celebrate Constitution Day by commenting on this blog post or by emailing a short summary to

Campus Spotlight: Western Carolina University

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

Civic engagement scholars and practitioners often site knowledge about government as an important element of citizenship development. This makes good sense. If citizens are going to solve societal problems and interact with elected officials, it is important that they understand governmental structures. Our nation’s Constitution is likely one of the most important documents for citizens to familiarize themselves with. Constitution Day was created as one way to assure that more citizens will learn about and celebrate this governing document. Constitution Day takes place on September 17th and celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. Each educational institution in the United States that receives federal funding must observe this holiday. In the ADP, many campuses have transformed this little-known federal mandate into an opportunity to reflect on our government, our liberties, and our obligations as citizens in this democracy.

Some ADP campuses have extended celebrations of and conversations about the Constitution beyond this holiday by incorporating Constitutional programming into ongoing campus activities. Western Carolina University in North Carolina is one such enterprising institution. Western Carolina has tied discussions about the Constitution into its  Quality Enhancement Planning (QEP) process. The Student Affairs and Undergraduate Studies departments at Western Carolina are hosting a semester-long celebration of the First Amendment as part of the QEP process. Faculty members are encouraged to develop lectures, workshops, exhibits, multimedia projects, and other programs with the goal of educating the Western Carolina community about the First Amendment. Administrators at Western Carolina are encouraging a variety of faculty members from different disciplines to consider how a program about the First Amendment might fit into their disciplinary work. Part of Western Carolina’s goal is to get each person on campus to talk and think about how the First Amendment relates to their daily lives.

What is particularly compelling about the Western Carolina project is that it is using a mandatory university process (QEP) to increase the campus community’s knowledge and understanding of the Constitution. One distinctive thing about the ADP is its focus on institutional intentionality. Institutional intentionality can be defined as how an individual institution organizes its resources and activities to achieve specific institutional goals. Civic engagement programming must be institutionalized on individual campuses so that all students have the opportunity to develop as citizens. By incorporating civic education into their QEP process, Western Carolina is demonstrating its level of institutional intentionality.

In ADP, we work to educate “informed, engaged citizens.” It is campus programming like Western Carolina’s that builds student civic knowledge and helps us realize our goal of educating future citizens for our democracy.

For more information, please contact Carol Burton, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies, at Western Carolina University.

Question: How might you use existing campus functions to educate students as citizens?

Writers’ Blocks: An Experiment in Design and Public Deliberation

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that there is a collective unconscious that links all people in the world together. He conjectured that this is why we often witness the creation of similar myths and fables despite great distances in land, language, and culture. While no one can prove the existence of such a collective unconscious, certain events can at times make us wonder if there is something that connects and inspires us all. Case in point: Writers’ Blocks at Penn State University. Writers’ Blocks is very similar to the Democracy Plaza pioneered at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

“The Writers’ Blocks are a series of installation works which foster debate and engagement within public spaces…The project has been developed into a system for everyone to use, easily constructed from commonly available materials.” The blocks consist of artfully displayed chalk boards that showcase student-selected questions with Constitutional dimensions and were originally designed in celebration of Constitution Day in 2007. The blocks are located in a central location on the Penn State campus and feature questions such as “Should the Ten Commandments be posted in public spaces?” “Is torture justifiable?” and “Is intolerance of the 9/11 mosque fundamentally un-American?” (Taken from the Writers’ Blocks brochure.) Because of the installation of Writers’ Blocks, the Penn State community has engaged in an ongoing and sustained discussion about these and other important societal issues. In addition to this discussion, students have learned more about how the Constitution relates to their daily lives.

Aside from the civic learning that is taking place, what is remarkable about Writers’ Blocks is that it was created by Peter Aeschbacher and his architecture students with no knowledge of the Democracy Plaza project at IUPUI.  Writers’ Blocks grew out of a desire by Peter and his students to create discussion on campus about Constitutional issues. In 2008, the model was recognized by the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture with the National Education Honor Award.

“The project functions at two levels: as an example of design thinking applied to a topic outside the traditional bounds of design (the Constitution) and as an example of a problem-solving tool developed by a substantive engagement with an issue (public participation and civic engagement),” wrote Peter in a recent email to me. Peter continues, “my pedagogic strategy in taking on the topic of Constitution Day with first-year architecture students was to challenge them to come to terms with how they define their chosen profession and its public mission. In addition, the students were also asked to follow through with their ideas in a very disciplinary manner: actually designing and building the final projects. This process closely follows a design process of divergence>transformation>convergence at both the active learning as well at the project level.”

Peter and his students have refined the project so that it is easily replicable by campuses interested in using it for Constitution Day celebrations and other on-campus programming. With this goal in mind, Peter is in the process of developing a manual for installing Writers’ Block on other campuses. As soon as this manual is produced, I will share it on the ADP Blog. I encourage leaders in the ADP network to consider creating similar projects on their campuses – be it a Democracy Plaza or Writers’ Blocks or something else that suits the campus environment and circumstances and encourages discussion.

We see this project as a Signature Practice in Civic Engagement. The project necessitates multidisciplinary learning by, for example, challenging architecture students to explore how landscape architecture might create space for political discussions and learning. Writers’ Blocks also supports an ongoing conversation about how Constitutional issues impact our daily lives, thus developing in students a deepened understanding of the Constitution. Finally, Writers’ Blocks allows students to hone the important civic skill of discussing difficult political issues in a civil manner.

Whether or not the spontaneous creation of two identical and innovative projects proves the existence of a collective unconscious is somewhat unimportant for our purposes. What is important is that both projects arose on separate campus communities to create space for a visual and verbal grappling with pressing contemporary issues facing our democracy.

For more information about Writers’ Blocks, please email Peter Aeschbacher. For more information about Democracy Plaza, please visit this website.

Question: How might your campus create civic spaces similar to Writers’ Blocks that support ongoing discussion about Constitutional issues?

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 212 other followers



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 212 other followers