The Civicist

The Civicist: April 2019

April 2019

Civic Engagement

We emphasize that active participation in political and civic life should be rooted in the knowledge that makes one a more informed citizen, enhanced by skills that make one a more effective citizen, and grounded in values that promote the public good over private interests and a positive attitude toward pluralism and diverse perspectives.

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Our mission is to educate and inspire people to address public issues and cultivate a just and inclusive democracy.

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Remember to do your civic duty before you leave for summer and update your voter registration with where you will be living in November of 2019!

Thank you & Congratulations!
Ethan Gardner, Bella Chua and Anna Connole

The Madison Center and Dukes Vote are incredibly grateful for the invaluable contributions this year by our Engagement Fellow Shelby Taraba and our Graduate Assistant Bella Chua. Bella is graduating with a Master’s in Business Accounting and will be working for a firm that specializes in nonprofit accounting. Shelby has accepted an administrative position at Georgetown University and hopes to pursue a Master’s degree there.

Thank you also to our amazing undergraduate Democracy Fellows: Angelina Clapp, Anna Connole, Ethan Gardner, Leeyah Jackson, Julia Kravitz, Aaliyah McLean, and Bry Moore. Their dedication to strengthening civic learning and democratic engagement is inspiring and makes a difference daily at JMU and beyond.

Dr. Brian Charette, Norman Ellis, III, and JMU President Jon Alger

Congrats Norman Ellis, III, selected as a 2019 Virginia Governor’s Fellow!

Breeze TV was awarded 1st place in Best Video Content by the Virginia Press Association for its election night coverage. Rewatch the coverage below.

Arc of Citizenship

On April 13 and 14, the Northeast Neighborhood Association, The Madison Center, Community Service Learning, the Honors College, JMU Women of Color, and The Hburg Citizen, collaborated on an experiential learning tour for JMU students and residents of Harrisonburg and Rockingham to Montpelier and to local sites to develop a better understanding of the connections between the struggles for freedom, rights and equality, and the contributions of social justice movements to American society and democracy. Learn about sites visited on our blog and at The Citizen. JMU students were deeply impacted by the experience and said they learned a lot about local history. We plan to make this an annual event.

The tour began at James Madison’s Montpelier on Saturday, April 13 with the opportunity to visit the Mere Distinction of Colour exhibit and discuss the legacy of slavery with Dr. Patrice Grimes, a member of Montpelier's descendant community and a professor at UVA’s Curry School of Education. We will then visited the Gilmore cabin, built by an emancipated African American and the Montpelier Train Station to learn about segregation and the impact of Jim Crow laws.
Republican Primary Debate for VA HD 25

On April 16, the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, JMU College Republicans and the Rockingham County Republican Party hosted a debate for the three candidates running for the Republican nomination to serve in Virginia’s House of Delegates 25th District. Sophomore Alex Rodriguez and Senior Chris Gothard moderated the debate with help from SMAD Professor Ryan Alessi. RIchard Fox, Chris Runion and Marshall Pattie debated key issues affecting the district and the Commonwealth, including abortion and the second amendment. Read coverage from WHSVthe Breeze, or The Citizen.

Madison Vision Series with Barbara Schaal

barbara-schaal.jpgDr. Barbara Schaal, an evolutionary biologist and former vice president of the National Academy of Sciences, delivered the final Madison Vision Series lecture of the 2018-19 academic year, “Serving Society Through Science: Facts, Communication, Policy.” Dr. Schaal told the audience that “science needs to serve society.” Read more here.

Public Service Awards Ceremony

public-service-reception.jpgOn April 29, the JMU College of Arts and Letters, the School of Public and International Affairs, the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, Community Service Learning and Justice Studies recognized seven public servants at a Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) awards ceremony and reception. Award recipients were recognized as outstanding public service professionals whose work is making life better for all Americans. Read about the awardees.

2020 Census Awareness Day

As part the state and national 2020 Census Awareness Day on April 1, The Madison Center hosted the first of hopefully several community conversations. JMU President Jon Alger, an appointed member of the Virginia Complete Count Commission, and Cathy Hartz, Director of Partnerships at the Census Bureau, discussed why the census matters and what can be done to ensure a complete count in Virginia. Find out more about the event at WHSV. President Alger also discussed the importance of the 2020 Census at the Virginia Council of Presidents in April and what colleges and universities can do. Read The Madison Center’s primer here.

Out and About

The Madison Center’s director, Abe Goldberg, gave a presentation about JMU’s voter education and engagement efforts on a Students Learn Students Vote Coalition call on March 28. The call focused on organizations and campuses in states with elections this fall. Abe also served as the keynote speaker at Virginia's Collegiate Honors Council Spring Conference on April 5. The theme of this year’s conference was Democracy in the Mirror: Reflecting on our Nation and Culture. Abe also had the honor of serving as the lunchtime speaker at Bluestone Reunions on April 27. Attendees included about 100 alumni celebrating the 50th and 75th anniversary of their Madison College graduation ceremony.

Community Service Learning associate director Jamie Williams and The Madison Center’s associate director Carah Ong Whaley presented at the Gulf South Summit at Sam Houston State University in April on "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts: Paths to social justice through the union of service & civic engagement." Their presentation & resources are available online here.

In April, Kate Waltemyer and Shanna Kelly, two student editors at the award-winning student newspaper, The Breeze, went to the New York Times for the 2019 Student Editor’s workshop. Listen to their experiences that they shared with us here.

Felice Nudleman, Executive Director of AASCU’s American Democracy Project spent the day learning about JMU’s civic learning and democratic engagement initiative on April 10. The visit included conversations about JMU’s Engagement Fellows program, D.E.E.P. Impact, and our civic learning and engagement assessment efforts. Ms. Nudelman also met with President John Alger is discuss our institutional commitment to civic engagement.

In April, Democracy? In Peril hosted former Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, senior adviser with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and JMU alum, Walter Shaub and Gabe Lezra, an attorney and CREW policy counsel to discuss the current ethics crisis in Washington and efforts to enforce ethical norms in government. Listen to WMRA coverage here.

Democratic Deliberation at JMU

On April 8, The Madison Center and D.E.E.P. Impact collaborated on a tent talk regarding the life and legacy of Paul Jennings. This was an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to learn more about Paul Jennings and to deliberate on the naming of JMU’s new residence hall for him. Throughout the day, we were able to have meaningful conversations with students of varying backgrounds, experiences, and perceptions. Read more about the event and what students had to say on our blog.

D.E.E.P. Impact and the Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue also hosted conversations for students to consider how we can address the challenges of names that may feel exclusionary to many or that do not advance our university values.

On April 17, JMU’s Student Government Association Diversity Committee and The Madison Center also held a tent talk on the Quad to discuss diversity and inclusion at JMU. Students and faculty stopped by and responded to prompts asking what diversity means to them and how we can create a more inclusive campus.

The Madison Center’s Civic Coffee Donut Discussions had a takeover in April by Madison Honors College students in Carah Ong Whaley’s civic engagement class. Students hosted weekly civic coffee donut discussions on issues that matter to them, including: Free Speech on Campus, Climate Change, Human Trafficking and Gay Conversion Therapy. If you missed the in-person discussions, read about the issues on our blog and see what you can do about them.

The Madison Center and the Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue facilitated two events in April - one with students and one with faculty - to discuss the findings from 11 focus groups conducted with faculty, staff, students, academic unit heads and deans conducted in 2018 on the campus climate for civic learning and democratic engagement. After presenting data from the focus groups, participants discussed how we can work to foster more vigorous democratic engagement and civic action at JMU. The campus climate study is part of a nationwide research study with Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE) and a full report will be available soon.

Students Against Sexual Violence also hosted their first annual Teal Meal at Hotel Madison to raise awareness about sexual violence and support survivors. Laura Dunn, ESQ., was the keynote speaker and SASV also raised money for SurvJustice, a nonprofit dedicated to providing justice for survivors of sexual violence.

City of Joy Screening: As part of Sexual Assault Awareness month, Students Against Sexual Violence and The Madison Center screened and discussed City of Joy on April 8. City of Joy, a transformational leadership community for women survivors of violence, located in Bukavu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Madison Cup Debates

madison-cup-debates.jpgOn Thursday April 18, JMU hosted the Annual Madison Commemorative Debate and Citizen Forum (a.k.a., the Madison Cup Debates). The Madison Cup Debates are sponsored by The Madison Debate Society, the School of Communication Studies, the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, the Office of the President and the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.

The topic for the 2019 Madison cup was: The United States federal government should significantly reduce executive authority over immigration. The winners were: George Washington University (First Place), Drury University (Second Place), and Louisiana State University Shreveport (Third Place).

ExplorIng Prohibition in Rockingham County

main-street-project.jpgA team of JMU College of Arts and Letters graduate students uncovered and digitized 6,379 prohibition-era legal records to better understand local history. In April, JMU Libraries, JMU Department of History, and the Rockingham Circuit Court, with support from 4-VA & others, launched the digital archive of the documents surrounding the efforts of local, state and federal authorities to enforce prohibition (1916-1933) in Rockingham County. View the project online here.

In April, Dr. Philip Mills Herrington and the students of his Historic Preservation course presented “Preservation on the Periphery: The South Main Street Project,” exploring change and continuity along Harrisonburg South Main Street. The pop-up exhibit showcased research conducted by graduate and undergraduate students, and featured materials from JMU Libraries Special Collections related to South Main Street, where the JMU campus meets the Harrisonburg Downtown Historic District. While the thoroughfare long marked the western boundary of the university, new twenty-first century landmarks such the Forbes Center and Hotel Madison raise questions about the future impact of campus expansion on the historic fabric of Harrisonburg.

Webinar: Civic Learning Democratic Engagement Theory of Change

April 25, the American Democracy Project hosted a webinar on the Civic Learning Democratic Engagement Theory of Change featuring Lindsey Woelker, Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and Andy Lokie and Darrell Hamlin of the eJournal of Public Affairs.

Please remember to register for CLDE! May 1 is the Early-bird Registration Deadline and the deadline to reserve a room at the conference hotel is May 14.

Furious Flower: A Revolution in African American Poetry

In April, Furious Flower launched an archive containing hundreds of hours of footage of the 1994 conference: Furious Flower: A Revolution in African American Poetry, September 29-October 1, 1994.

Taking its name from a line in Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem, “The Second Sermon on the Warpland,” the academic center originated in the acclaimed 1994 Furious Flower Poetry Conference, the first major conference on African American poetry since the 1970s.
For more than 35 invited poets and critics from every region of the country gathered with other poets, scholars, and educators to generate the confluence of ideas and creative energies around Black poetry that marked the event. Hundreds of students, faculty, and community members, in audiences that reached thirteen hundred people for major readings, experienced something that would later lead poet Nikky Finney to dub Furious Flower, “the Black poetry planet.”
Upcoming Events & Opportunities
City of Harrisonburg Voter Registrar: City Hall, 409 S Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801;
Rockingham County Director of Elections/General Registrar: Rockingham County 20 East Gay Street Harrisonburg, VA 22802 (540) 564-3056


Public History Project Showcase: On April 30, Dr. Meg Mulrooney’s Introduction to Public History students will showcase their research on JMU campus history from the semester in SSC 4045. Dr. Mulrooney and her students have spent the semester using JMU’s institutional history as a lens through which to explore different aspects of public history (e.g., historic preservation, oral history, exhibit design, podcasting, archaeology). They have also explored how other institutions are presenting their histories of slavery and segregation, as well as other silences in official campus narratives. For their final project, they will create digital content for a website to support the History and Context Committee of the university’s Task Force on Inclusion. At the showcase, the five teams of students will present their digital projects as a real-world example of public history. You’ll have the opportunity to walk around the room, see their web pages projected, and ask them questions.

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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