The American Democracy Project at MTSU concentrates on these initiatives that are part of the AASCU national American Democracy Project:
- Constitution Day
Each educational institution in the United States that receives federal funding must observe Constitution Day, September 17th (or the week before or the week after when the 17th falls on a weekend). On many campuses the American Democracy Project has transformed that little-known federal mandate into an opportunity to reflect on our government, our liberties, and our obligations as citizens in this democracy. At MTSU we value Constitution Day as a wonderful opportunity to launch the academic year with a set of inspiring activities. Please view the Constitution Day 2007 video.
- Strategies for Encouraging Voting
Nationally, the American Democracy Project has been studying the experiences of our campuses in the past national election in order to design strategies to encourage greater voter education, registration, and participation in the upcoming national elections of 2008. The Electoral Voices Taskforce published its finding in Electoral Voices: A Best Practices Guide for Engaging College Students in Elections monograph. This monograph serves as a guide for colleges and universities that are working to increase the level of student participation in elections. At MTSU, the American Democracy Project has organized voter registration drives for students and has sought to establish a polling place on the MTSU campus.
- Political Engagement Project
In order to strengthen undergraduate education for responsible, engaged citizenship, the Political Engagement Project describes and assesses the impact of undergraduate courses and extra-curricular programs designed to foster informed political engagement, broadly defined to include community engagement with a systemic dimension and other aspects of public policy, as well as electoral politics at local, state, and national levels. At MTSU, the American Democracy Project is developing strategies to integrate civic engagement curriculum into existing courses, to create effective learning communities for first-year students, and to sponsor events and activities that raise relevant issues and provide opportunities for students and faculty to address those issues in an intellectual environment and in ways that encourage students to involve themselves in public life.
- Stewardship of Public Lands
Throughout the United States, but especially in the West, the question of who will control public lands is a hotly debated topic. The public lands of the west (national parks, national forests, grazing and prairie lands) all are sites of controversy. Who owns these lands? Who has the greatest say in their use? Does the national or the state government have the primary interest? Is it local citizens or citizens of the nation as a whole whose interests must be recognized? Timber, mining, oil and gas producers, developers, farmers, ranchers, hunters, business owners, recreational users, environmentalistsall of these groups assert claims to influence and use. Yet whose interests have primacy? And in a democracy, how do the interests of all of these groups get addressed and resolved? Is the process simply one in which the winner takes all, or are there ways to find common ground, identifying processes and solutions that create more participation and greater satisfaction? Most importantly, what is the role of individual citizens in the formulation and execution of public policy? How can individual citizens have a meaningful role in these debates? At MTSU, the American Democracy Project seeks faculty and student organizations who would like to develop programs in this initiative, using Yellowstone NP or Tennessee public lands as laboratories of exploration and engagement.
- Deliberative Polling®
Deliberative Polling® employs social science to see what people would think about an issue if they became more engaged and informed. A random, representative sample is first polled on some specific public interest topic. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place for one or more days in order to discuss the issue. Carefully balanced briefing materials, developed by an advisory group, are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available. The American Democracy Project at MTSU seeks interested faculty to undertake some version of Deliberative Polling® in Middle Tennessee.
- 7 Revolutions
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), The New York Times, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, DC, have joined with AASCU campuses to design a project to use the materials of CSIS on AASCU campuses. The goal of this initiative is to increase the number of undergraduates who are knowledgeable about global issues so that they can act wisely as thoughtful, engaged citizens. At MTSU, the American Democracy Project seeks faculty who wish to use the 7 Revolutions (population, resource management, technology, knowledge flows, economic integration, conflict, and governance) in their courses or with other faculty in Raider Learning Communities. Contact the coordinator for more information.
For more information about these initiatives on the national level, visit the American Democracy Project national web site.
Use the online contact form to become involved in these initiatives at MTSU or to find out more from the campus coordinators.