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The Democracy Project: Battlefield Experience 101

Re-posted from this website.

Active and veteran members of the armed forces who understand the serious demands of academic and military life were featured in a forum held during the Honors Conference this week.

“Soldier-Citizens and Academia: Engaging Democracy and Learning at NGCSU in a Time of War” was held Wednesday at the Library and Technology Center on campus.

The veterans who spoke were John Risley (Army), Alexander Gupton (Marines), Sterling Baldwin (Army), Steven Hugon (Marines) and Thomas Scott Level (Army).

The five covered a variety of topics, including what democracy is, what made them join the military and what role education plays in a member of the armed forces experience on the battlefield.

Gupton said, “Education can help you, but it can also hinder you. Enlightened ideals can keep you from making good decisions. Sometimes you just have to respond on instinct, because over thinking can get you into trouble.”

Risley added, “If you see a civilian that looks like a farmer, you have to consider the fact that he’s coming to kill you. You can’t just blindly follow orders [i.e. shoot on sight]- that’s a recipe for disaster. Sometimes you have to use your discretion.”

Another topic discussed was the importance of leadership and the lack of awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“Learn about the symptoms of PSTD. Learn about the disease,” Risley said. “Because chances are somebody in your platoon is going to have it.”

Level said that “You have to set an example and be an advocate for everyone in your platoon.”

The Soldier-Citizens and Academia forum was sponsored by The American Democracy Project, Phi Alpha Theta, and the Political Science Students Association.

University of Central Missouri Hosts its First Earth Week Celebration

Contributed by Innovative Public Relations of UCM.

This has been a year of firsts for the University of Central Missouri (UCM). UCM started its first campus-wide recycling program and became the first university in the area to kick off a $36.1 million project to reduce energy consumption. UCM also sponsored its first full week of activities celebrating Earth Day.

A campus committee consisting of faculty and student organizations developed the week of events based on the theme “Change your behavior, change our world.” The week’s events focused on celebrating sustainability and recycling efforts on campus while providing information on the importance of living green.

ADP members at UCM played a large role in Earth Week 2010, sponsoring many of the week’s events and speakers including: “Green Luncheon” featuring Daniel Wallach from Greensburg, Kansas; a Volunteer Service Day; a Green Short-film Festival; and speakers John Hess an evolutionary biologist, and Robert Mann, co-director of Shadowcliff.

To kick off the week of events more than 80 community participants came together on Saturday, April 17, for the Volunteer Service Day.  Some of the service projects included cleaning up nature trails, helping build a Habitat for Humanity House, and volunteering at Nature Central.  More than 125 audience members attended Monday’s Haute Trash Fashion Show, and several students, faculty, staff, and community members participated as models. On Wednesday, Green Energy at Central brought more than 30 Kansas City area business leaders to participate in a round table discussion that will be featured in the May issue of Ingram’s business magazine.

Ed Begley, Jr. was the highlight of the week, speaking about living sustainably, not only on Earth Day, but also on the other 364 days of the year.  Begley also encouraged everyone to start with inexpensive practices such as riding bikes, recycling, and using cloth grocery bags.

The UCM plans to make the Earth Week celebration an annual event. As a leading university in sustainability, UCM anticipates continued support from the local community and area sponsors including Trane, the contractor for UCM’s Energy Savings Contract (ESCO) project.

Innovative Public Relations (IPR), a student-led public relations firm, is under the direction of the University of Central Missouri Office of University Relations in Warrensburg, Mo.  Founded in January 2010, the firm consists of six public relations students, all of whom are committed to professional development and public relations initiatives.  IPR is committed to providing clients with quality public relations in a timely, accurate and ethical manner.  IPR’s future goals include opening its doors to prospective clients affiliated with the university.  For more information, visit or contact IPR at or 660-543-8557.

May 4 is the Last Day to Submit a Nomination for the Bill Plater Award for Provosts

Nominations are now being sought for the William Plater Award.

The Plater Award is given to chief academic officers (Provosts, Vice Presidents or Vice Chancellors for Academic Affairs) in recognition of their exemplary leadership in advancing the civic learning of undergraduates.  The Plater Award is designed to recognize the critical role of the chief academic officer in advancing the civic mission of the campus through curricular reform, public advocacy, accountability for institutional citizenship, faculty development and recruitment, and partnerships with community organizations.

The Award recipient will receive an engraved commemorative and a check for $1,000.  The recipient will be announced at the annual meeting of the American Democracy Project in Baltimore in June; at the awardee’s discretion, the Award can also is presented at a suitable occasion on the recipient’s campus, ordinarily in the fall semester following selection.

Chief academic officers may be nominated by anyone on the campus; the president or chancellor must endorse the nomination.  Any AASCU chief academic officer is eligible, whether or not their campus is an active participant in the American Democracy Project.

The nomination consists of the following:  a complete cover sheet, a vitae or resume no longer than five (5) pages; and no more than five (5) additional pages of documentation in the form of a description of the nominee’s achievements, supporting letters, etc.  The materials must be sent to George L. Mehaffy (, and must be received no later than May 4, 2009.

For more information, please see the Plater Award information and application form on the American Democracy Project website.

Don’t Forget to Sign Up for the Campus and Friends Showcase at the ADP National Meeting!

Would you like to promote your ADP campus activities? Here’s a great opportunity to share and celebrate your work and help others learn how to promote civic engagement on their campuses. For the sixth year in a row, we will feature the ever-popular Campus and Friends Showcase!  There is no cost.  Simply complete this very quick registration form no later than May 15th, 2010.

The Campus and Friends Showcase will take place on Friday, June 18th 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. We will be available to help you set up your materials beginning at 9:00 a.m. that day. The Showcase is designed as an exhibit hall, with tables available for presenters. Boxed lunches will be served in this room to guarantee high visibility. Last year, the Campus and Friends Showcases was one of the most popular parts of our program. People loved to see what other campuses have done with the American Democracy Project.  The Showcase also serves as an important networking opportunity for project participants.

Information about materials you should provide, the set-up, and the structure of the showcase are available upon request. Please contact Cecilia M. Orphan to learn more.

If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to register for the American Democracy Project National Meeting, June 17-19, 2010. To register for the meeting visit this website.

UNF Hosts Jacksonville Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau Forum

Written by Erin Dupree, University of North Florida

“Laziness.” This was the first response offered when Tamara Patton, an AmeriCorps VISTA working with the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition (ESHC), asked over 100 people for words that represented common perceptions of homeless people. Through her “Jacksonville Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau,” Ms. Patton guided a dialogue that would challenge common misconceptions about homelessness. She provided a forum for three formerly homeless individuals to share their experiences.

The idea for this event, sponsored by the American Democracy Project, began in November 2009 when the University of North Florida sent four students to attend the student-organized “National Resolve to Fight Poverty Conference” at Loyola University at Chicago. There, Cody Spencer, Elizabeth Bittel, Katrina Norbom, and Erin Dupree networked with students from around the country who were serving the impoverished and homeless within their communities. Upon returning to campus, the four were informed, inspired, and energized.

The students met with faculty advisors and local service providers and decided that hosting the “Jacksonville Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau” would offer an opportunity for a dialogue about homelessness within the Jacksonville community. The Speakers’ Bureau is a joint project of ESHC of Jacksonville, Inc. and the National Coalition for the Homeless. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, there are dozens of Speakers’ Bureaus around the nation.

The students scheduled the event on the University’s calendar and promoted it within the University and the community at-large. They conferred with the University’s Media Relations Division in the making of a press release. They posted countless fliers around the campus and the community, promoted a Facebook page for the event, and recruited a volunteer videographer.

The event took place Monday, March 22, 2010. Through stories of strength, shame, compassion and misfortune, there were laughter, sighs of empathy, and tears shared between the speakers and the enthralled audience. A question-and-answer period followed, which included ways students could help homeless individuals. These ranged from contacting legislators, to donating apparel suitable for job interviews, to simply saying “Hello” to homeless people one encounters. Over $150 in donations was raised.

While this event was through, it was only the first chapter of their work as activists. More students have since expressed interest, and they are embarking upon new endeavors, both individually and as a group, to ease poverty and homelessness within their community, with this valuable experience as a springboard.

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