HIGH POINT, N.C., Aug. 22, 2012 – High Point University faculty and students are diving into the election season by launching the HPU Democracy USA Project.
The project is a learning initiative designed to better prepare the nation’s future leaders and challenge the idea that today’s citizens are losing their ability to work together across differences.
Some components of the project began in the spring, but it officially commences this semester. The project is supported by a Think Big grant from the university for $50,000. It puts civic engagement at the forefront of academics and gets students involved in surrounding communities and the electoral process while also building their skill sets. Dr. Joe Blosser, the Robert G. Culp Jr. Director of Service Learning, has spearheaded and coordinated multiple components of the project which include:
-Nine courses across seven academic disciplines and departments have been molded to complement civic engagement. They will cover all elements of the American electoral process, linking everything to the 2012 presidential election. The students enrolled in the courses will attend three colloquiums outside of class as an opportunity to present their findings as experts in front of an audience.
-Groups of students attended the national conventions with the Democratic National Convention being held in Charlotte, and the Republican National Convention being held in Tampa, Fla. There, they engaged with political leaders and activists, hosted a religion and politics panel in Charlotte and more.
-The American Dream Project is a reality show being created by students that will cover numerous issues related to the election including health care, job creation and more. With nearly 100 students and five faculty members attending the conventions, the reality show will be based on interviews with political leaders, as well as people who are being affected by the decisions that policymakers influence every day. Segments of this project have also been filmed in the High Point community and include interviews with local community leaders and citizens.
-During the fall, the HPU Poll will be fielding two national polls for the first time. A national poll will be fielded just before the presidential election, while another national poll will be fielded just after the election. Two statewide polls were fielded just before the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Two more statewide polls will be fielded prior to the election. HPU Poll results have been reported on many media outlets including The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and Politico.
Throughout the project, students are engaging with the community and the community is engaging with them. Regardless of the student’s political affiliation, this experiential learning opportunity is producing students who understand the importance of civic responsibility. Meeting everyday people and policy makers creates a holistic understanding of our nation’s challenges.
“This has by far been the most incredible experience of my life,” says John Marsciano, sophomore strategic communications major. “I was given the opportunity to gain real, hands-on experience in one of the most professional environments possible. I was able to take what I’ve learned in the classroom and apply those skills around some of the most influential figures in the world.”
“If there is a final result to be derived from this project, it is this – to know that High Point University has developed a generation of students who connect the reality of political decisions with their daily lives,” says Carol Davis, instructor of communication and the leader of the American Dream Project.
To see pictures from the conventions, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/highpointuniversity/sets/72157631454212452/
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