The Conversations on American Democracy Working Group is hosting the first ever poster contest at the Stander Symposium on April 22. Photo taken from udayton.edu.
Members of the Conversations on American Democracy Working Group are continuing to encourage civic engagement on campus by hosting a poster contest this spring.
The virtual poster presentations, which will take place on April 22 during the Stander Symposium, ask students to reflect on their own experiences and answer the question: “what does American democracy mean to you?” The top three poster presenters, who will be selected by a committee of staff, faculty and students, will receive a $500 scholarship for the 2021 fall semester. Registration for the poster contested ended on March 26.
The Conversation of American Democracy Working Group was formed in response to the storming of the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Dr. Nancy Miller, a political science professor and member of the working group, said their goal is to provide spaces for students to process the Capitol events as well as the increased polarization of American politics. The poster contest is the second event that the Working Group has held this semester, the first being a panel discussion with several UD alumni who are working on Capitol Hill.
Provost Paul Benson, who helped convene the group along with President Spina, said that the events on Jan. 6 poised UD with an educational opportunity to inform and reflect with students.
“One of UDs institutional learning goals is ‘critical evaluation of our times,’” Benson said. “The significance of a riotous attack on our country’s constitutional order certainly calls for such critical evaluation, from a wide range of disciplinary, political and ethical perspectives.”
The working group is composed of faculty, staff and one student representative, Havana Glover. Glover is a freshman political science and communication major as well as the 2020 McIntosh Scholar at UD. Glover said she joined the working group when invited because she hopes to see more civic dialogue on campus. Glover shared that she has watched her peers end friendships with others who have different opinions than themselves, but said that opinions are not worth “ruining relationships over.”
“This is something I’m really passionate about,” Glover said. “It makes me upset because you can be friends with people who have different opinions, and you don’t have to be hostile when people have different political opinions than you do. But a lot of people don’t think about that now — they’re just like charged with anger.”
Miller said she also hopes the working group continues to spread civic conversations on campus. As someone who has been in political science for a long time, she said that she was affected by the events on Jan. 6, and wanted to help the UD community learn to have conversations with people who have different views than them. Miller also said that the poster contest not only opens this kind of dialogue on campus, but helps students reflect on what American democracy looks like in their own life. She said that it’s important that students understand that everyone has different perceptions when it comes to American politics.
“American democracy does not mean the same thing to everyone,” Miller said. “Everyone experiences American democracy in a very different way. And for some people, that’s been a very positive experience, but for a lot of other people, it’s not a positive experience. There’s a lot of faults in the system that impact them negatively.”
Glover said she encouraged many of her friends to take part in the poster contest, and echoed Miller in saying that she hopes students are encouraged to reflect on their own experiences as well as those of their peers. Both Miller and Glover said they hope to see the working group continue work on campus in the future, and both said that they see civic engagement as a part of UD’s mission.
“UD does community engagement really, really well,” Miller said. “But community engagement and civic engagement are really very distinct things. Helping to produce civically engaged graduates fits really, really well with UD’s mission of ‘the university for the common good.’”