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Posts tagged ‘Ideas for Campus Programming’

Economic Inequality: Youth Homelessness is Focus of Texas A and M University–Central Texas’s Lecture Series

Last week Texas A&M University–Central Texas (TAMUCT) kicked off their Provost Lecture Series to raise awareness and educate the community on the issue of youth homelessness as part of the ADP/TDC Economic Inequality Initiative. The goal if the initiative is to help students think about and take action to confront the complex causes of economic inequality in the United States by helping them become engaged and informed citizens.

The Provost Lecture Series started with a presentation from Allen Redmon, associate professor of English and department chairman of humanities, called “Hollywood’s Invisible Class.” Redmon talked about the relative blindness on youth homelessness in Hollywood films and some reasons such as using it as a plot piece rather than a serious issue that has to be overcome.

“Students need to be more engaged in their democracy — if they don’t know what the problems are, how can they be engaged?” said campus director of the American Democracy Project and associate professor of sociology Michelle Dietert. “Youth homelessness affects many students in Central Texas.”

ADP hopes to produce graduates who are committed to being knowledgeable, involved citizens in their community, which is what this new lecture series is helping to do at TAMUCT.

Strike a Match! Stockton University’s Activist in Residence Program

541b3aae11419.imageErin O’Hanlon, Program Assistant, & Rona Whitehead,

Activist in Residence, – Stockton University/ Office of Service-Learning

Matches by themselves are mere sticks of wood dipped in chemicals.  But struck against any rough surface — metal, the bottom of a shoe, or even a striker pad — the friction creates a force of energy that can light the world.

So too is a program at Stockton University gaining interest and traction.  In 2013, the American Democracy Project at Stockton, called on campus The Political Engagement Project, supported the institution to create an Activist in Residence Program.  Modelled after Activist in Residence Programs often found at social justice centers and women, gender and sexuality programs, the term-limited position at Stockton is the first in the nation facilitated through an ADP program.

In Fall 2013, Erin O’Hanlon arrived on the Stockton campus and became the first Activist in Residence (AIR). Erin worked in the community-based local rape crisis center for 16 years, and had established relationships at Stockton.  While there, she focused on raising the activism of students interested in gender equity.

Among her many accomplishments she managed to activate students to develop a Women’s Center, as demonstrated in this video produced by a service-learning section of Perspectives on Women with Stockton faculty Emily Van Duyne. The story of how this came about is an interesting one.

Stockton wasn’t the last of the state colleges and universities to still not have a resource center focused on women, gender and sexuality issues, but they certainly weren’t in the forefront of a movement that had started in the 1970’s.  Motivated for the university to organize these services on campus, faculty member and past-PEP co-chair Kristin Jacobson created a petition for members of the community to ask the institution to fund a center.  Activist students on campus took up the challenge, several of which were in Van Duyne’s class that semester.  The rest, as they say, was history.

In Fall 2014 the AIR position continued with Rona Whitehead. She had the daunting task of following in O’Hanlon’s footsteps.  Whitehead worked for nearly two decades in youth development programs with a national nonprofit youth organization. She kept the match flaring by organizing a mini-grant program where students and student groups were able to apply for funds to create sustainable projects that made a difference in the community.

This turned out to be wildly successful, with students working in teams and organizations to establish programs on and off campus.  One of the  projects was developed by The Neuroscience Club on campus, focusing on brain safety and prevention of traumatic brain injuries.  Their event, Save Your Brain, was attended by over 200 students.  Their funds were used to purchase helmets, long boards and a bike  that were offered as door prizes at the event. View an overview of the event here.

This fall the Office of Service Learning will continue to strike that match to carry on the momentum of the past two years with the AIR program.  Whitehead is back on campus for Fall 2015, and this semester is focused exclusively on American Democracy Project activities.  Continuing the legacy of Stockton’s unique brand of service-learning, Whitehead is focusing on civic related initiatives in the community with the assistance of an AIR team of students who work in the Office of Service-Learning. The initiatives will follow the passion of the AIR team and include food issues, mentoring and activism with high school students, engaging with children in Atlantic City, and coordinating a mini grant program for Service-Learning courses.

Director of The Office of Service-Learning, Daniel Fidalgo Tomé, recently said, “This program has ensured that our community partners have a place at the table.”

For more information, take a look at The Stockton University Office of Service-Learning website.  Interested in having an Activist in Residence at your college or university?  Here’s a link to a free Activist in Residence Toolkit to get you started.

Georgia College Teach-In: Events in Ferguson, Missouri

By Gregg Kaufman, ADP National Steering Committee Member

GA college teach in_1

Georgia College Teach-in on “Events in Ferguson, MO”

A standing room only crowd of nearly 150 students, faculty, staff, and community citizens attended a teach-in at Georgia College that addressed the events in Ferguson, MO and the related issues of race, class, and inequity in American society. Panelists representing a variety of academic disciplines and campus safety spoke, after which audience members asked questions. The presentations included “The Talk” that many young African American males hear about self-protection, black male stereotypes, sociological principles such as “othering,” human geography scales, and finally a critical thinking process based on the principle of charitable interpretation.

GA college teachin 2

Standing-room only crowd at teach-in.

Approximately half the audience represented local citizens and several people commented that they hoped more teach-ins would provide opportunities for learning and dialogue. Another common idea involved hosting a conversation among campus and community citizens with the police departments that share responsibility for public safety.

A student-led educational event and candlelight vigil for Michael Brown and the Ferguson community was held the next evening on the front campus.

2014 Important ADP Dates and Deadlines

Here are some important dates on our calendar for the upcoming year. What other civic engagement related events are on your calendar?

ImportantDatesLg2014

January

February

March

  • March 10: ADP/TDC National Meeting proposers notified

April

May

June

July

  • July 4: Independence Day

August

September

  • September 1: Labor Day
  • September 17: Constitution Day
  • September 29: Minnesota Regional ADP Meeting

November

AASCU & ADP on the Federal Government Shutdown

Gov't ClosedThe federal government shutdown is garnering a great deal of attention and outrage. Late last week, AASCU, along with five other national higher education associations, issued a joint community statement on the shutdown, calling for our campuses to treat it as a teachable moment and to encourage civic learning and engagement (see below).

AASCU’s American Democracy Project also sent out a query asking campus coordinators if they were utilizing the government shutdown for the purposes mentioned above and, if so, how they were doing it. Stephen F. Austin State University’s (Texas) Democracy Wall, a free speech area similar to the Democracy Plaza at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), is dedicated to the shutdown this month. SUNY Buffalo State is engaging in classroom-based discussion of the shutdown vis a vis the private capture of public goods and Larry Diamond’s “Physician Heal Thyself” chapters from his 2009 book The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World. And at Western Carolina University, the International Programs & Services office is making sure that students studying abroad or planning to go abroad are well aware of how passport, visas, embassies, and consulates are functioning in face of the shutdown.

Community Statement on Shutdown of the Federal Government

Muriel Howard HeadshotMy colleagues and I write as college and university leaders, concerned about the effect that the ongoing political paralysis in Washington is having on our country. The shutdown of federal agencies and the potential for default if the government’s borrowing limit is not raised are having a significant effect on the nation’s economy and many of our fellow citizens. This stalemate threatens to exacerbate the cynicism Americans already feel about the function and importance of their government.

This is a challenging time for our democratic process, a process which has served our country well for more than 200 years.

We are deeply concerned by the growing resignation of the American people to this “new normal”: the idea that Washington is so broken and dysfunctional that it cannot be fixed, only ignored or ridiculed. Our democratic government is most effective when it embraces open discourse, bipartisan cooperation and the art of compromise. These traditions have served us well since our founding, and are at the heart of the success of the American Experiment.

We believe this gradual acceptance of government dysfunction should be vigorously challenged and that each college and university can play a role in doing so. We call on colleges and universities around the country to bring together students, business and community leaders, and the public to engage in conversations and to be active engaged citizens. We should focus attention on the processes that ensure responsible government and sound budget policy.

Our nation was built upon the idea of a new form of government. Inherent in this promise is the idea of compromise and respect for the views of others. The belief in ideas and respect for conflicting viewpoints is also a core purpose of education. Together we can and must act to ensure the current stalemate in Washington is used to renew our students’ interest and commitment to democracy, rather than to discourage it.

We hope each of our institutions will make that possibility real for students and communities across the nation.

With warm regards,
Muriel A. Howard, Ph.D.
President
American Association of State Colleges and Universities

In cooperation with:

Walter G. Bumphus, President
American Association of Community Colleges

Molly Corbett Broad, President
American Council on Education

M. Peter McPherson, President
Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities

Hunter R. Rawlings III, President
Association of American Universities

David L. Warren, President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

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