Issue 2 – April 2012
Editor/College Coordinator: Dr. Scott F. Creamer Assistant Editor/Intern: Ileana Roque-‐Gonzalez
“Civic Engagement Day” Event
On April 4th, The Democracy Commitment held an event that occurred simultaneously on all three campuses with West as the central location and with a live web cast through Webinar on East and Osceola. The theme was: Does Your Vote Count? (A student’s Guide to the Voting Process). It featured speeches by Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles and Valencia College President Sandy Shugart. It also featured a panel with a round table discussion including State Representative Geraldine Thompson, former State Representative of Massachusetts and current Valencia College faculty member Brian Knuuttila, League of Women’s Voters representative Michelle Levy, and Faculty President Bob Gessner. In addition, on the Osceola campus, State Representative Darren Soto gave a speech, along with an audience question and answer session, after the panel discussion was concluded. The event was a resounding success with over 110 students attending the event on West and over 60 students attending on Osceola. In addition, over 45 students were registered to vote with the help of the Osceola County Supervisor of Elections office on the Osceola campus alone! Special thanks must go out to the Student Government Association (SGA) on the Osceola campus, the African-‐American Cultural Society on the East campus, the Model United Nations on the West campus, the Internship and Workforce Services office on all three campuses, and the Student Development office on all three campuses for volunteering to help on the day of the event and for helping to advertise and market the event in the time leading up to it. Finally, personal thanks from myself and the campus coordinators Scott Crosby (West) and Chris D’Urso (East) go out to Democracy Commitment intern Ileana Roque-‐Gonzalez and Valencia College student Steven Guerrero for helping with much of the leg work involved in implementing the planning of the event (e.g. fliers and invitations). I really don’t think we could have done this without you two
Dick Batchelor Speaks at Valencia College Dick Batchelor, Orlando based political consultant and former member of the Florida House of Representatives, was invited by professor Desmond Duncan to speak on the West campus in March. The following is an article covering this speech by contributor and Valencia College student Victor Pereira. When I was first informed that a former member of the Florida House of Representatives was going to come and speak with our class about two weeks ago, I must admit that neither my expectations nor my enthusiasm was all too high. Walking into building 9 on West campus and locking eyes with the speaker for the first time, I analyzed his “typical politician look” which only caused my suspense over hearing what he had to say sink even lower. It felt like it took forever to get all of the introductions out of the way and finally get the official speaker onto the podium. Obviously enough, I foolishly made it clear to myself that he wasn’t going to be able to prove his worth after such a daunting introduction that led up to his speech. I set myself up for a huge surprise. The speaker was Dick J. Batchelor, another fellow Floridian, and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives. He memorably started his speech declaring himself to be a child activist. I found this to be a refreshing way to introduce himself, as another human being with a heart, which I hoped wasn’t just another clever tactic that he perfected during his time serving the role of a politician who’s always desperately attempting to appeal to the public. He later went on to list his connections to big names in government like former president Bill Clinton and the secretary of state Hillary Clinton, even declaring that he has hugged Nelson Mandela! With the foundations of his speech set and all the memorable and surprising facts about himself out of the way, he began his effort to relate even better to the audience. Apparently, he once attended Valencia many moons ago at age 26, and he was the youngest person to run for the House. This successfully gave way to the image that it really isn’t impossible to get into politics and have a real voice in government, and it was not the worn out delusory statement that “all citizens have a say in the American government,” which only turn out to be faint pleas, cries, and complaints that seem to remain ignored by politicians. Since we were going over public opinion at the time [in my U.S. Government class], that fact was exactly something that I personally wanted to be reassured about. Mr. Batchelor turned out to be surprisingly easy to relate to. He was humorous and seemed passionate about what he stood for. In fact, the most simple of things he said is what has stuck with me the most, “communicate with passion in order to be an advocate!” When answering questions from the audience, he kept his cool and remained knowledgeable over just about anything that was thrown his way. Oddly enough, I found this unmoving nature about these politicians inspiring, which would be ironic to anyone who truly knows how I feel about the government. I honestly would never have guessed that, by the end of the period, I would be glad that I witnessed his speech. Even though I must admit I let my preconceived personal judgments over what stereotypical politicians are get the best of me, Dick Batchelor didn’t seem to be that way at all. I ended up learning more than I would ever have expected. The speaker gave me
hope that there is still room for humanity in the superficial realm of politics. With politicians and political consultants like Dick J. Batchelor, I can see that a better public approval rating for the future of America is indeed possible.
Black History Month – Presentation by Dr. Kevin Washington
During Black History Month (February), a number of prominent guests, including Kwabena Tandoh and Dr. Bernice A. King, gave moving speeches and talks. The following is an article by Democracy Commitment Assistant Editor and Valencia College student Ileana Roque-‐ Gonzalez covering a discussion conducted by Dr. Kevin Washington, Professor of Psychology at Valencia College-‐Osceola, concerning “The Psychological Impact of African Enslavement.” The presentation by Dr. Washington discussed psychological implications of African American enslavement. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month, raised questions: what happens when a population is marginalized? Dr. Woodson went against some of his peers who believed African American history was not separate from the history of every other American. African slaves were controlled by a cultural hegemony where they were manipulated and made to believe their inferiority, denied their identity, suppressed from celebrated who they were and where they came from. Dr. Washington gave an example of how slaves, even among themselves, were divided into various forms. He went on to discuss the different dimensions of trauma and their effects – “when you control men’s thinking, you do not worry about their activities” – and asked the question, “what happens to the ones committing the violations?” referencing the impact not only suffered by the slave but also by the slave master or proponent. The Greeks and Romans of ancient history have been given credit for their contributions to humanity, but that has not been the case for the legacies contributed by the Africans. Egypt, for example, is the place where the first exact statements about the interrelationship among geometric figures started. Ancient universities, such as Sankore University and University of Timbuktu, were some of the many learning centers in West Africa. These are just a few examples of the rich history and legacies Africans have contributed to the world.
Youth and the Decline in Knowledge of Civics
In a recent speech and presentation, national education standards expert E.D. Hirsch attributed a dramatic decline in American students’ knowledge of civics over the last half-‐ century to a simple failure to teach it that has resulted from complacency about the proper function of schools in a democracy. To read more of his presentation and associated study, please go to http://www.educationnews.org/ed_reports/100438.html.
Digital Citizenship A recent study by Paul Baumann, in conjunction with Bennett, Freelon, and Wells (2010), takes a closer look at the characteristics of “digital natives” and provides a summary of research about digital natives' civic engagement habits and the implications of this research for education policy aimed at promoting digital citizenship for today’s youth. To learn more, please read his article at http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/00/30/10030.pdf.
Pillars of the Community – Christie Pickeral
In each issue of this E-‐zine, a Valencia College faculty member, staff member, or community partner will be featured that has brought prominence to Valencia as a strong institution of civic engagement, education in democracy, and community leadership, along with personally demonstrating the importance of civic commitment to the positive development of a college and/or local community. This issue’s featured star is, Christie Pickeral – Professor of English for Academic Purposes; Service Learning Coordinator
Professor Pickeral, as the Service Learning Coordinator at Valencia College, has been a very strong proponent of experiential learning that benefits the community and enhances student engagement with course content, service learning projects that help teach civic responsibility and strengthen local communities, and faculty development through the professional development course Service Learning Across the Curriculum (LCTS 3213) through the Office of faculty Development. In the Service Learning course SLS 2940 that she oversees, students earn college credit while responding to needs in the community and applying knowledge from their courses with guidance from a faculty supervisor. 2011 projects have included taking students to the Dominican Republic (Kevin Mulholland and Christie Pickeral) to host a science camp for children, Habitat for Humanity projects (supervised by Ann Farrell, Rachel Allen, and Andy Ray), Coalition for the Homeless projects (Rachel Allen), and involvement in Give Kids the World (Deb Hall). Thank you, Christie, for all your hard work and service to Valencia College. It is truly appreciated.
Conference Presentation Dr. Scott F. Creamer, Professor of Political Science at Valencia College-‐Osceola, will present a research project titled "Parrotheads or Community Leaders: Alternative Spring Breaks as a Method of Fostering College Students' Civic Commitment” at the 2nd Annual National Democracy Commitment Conference. The following is the abstract for the paper, and if you are interested in the larger research project, please contact Professor Creamer at SCreamer@valenciacollege.edu closer to the June 7th conference date. Higher education institutions in the United States sponsor alternative breaks to give students an opportunity to assist underserved communities during spring and fall/winter breaks. As students address social issues during alternative breaks, many are likely to commit themselves to long-‐term involvement in community service. This project is based on research conducted at numerous higher education settings, ranging from community colleges like De Anza College, private, liberal arts-‐oriented schools like Rollins College in Florida, and public, comprehensive universities like Western Carolina University in North Carolina. Case study methods were used to explore the learning/development outcomes of the institutions' alternative break programs and the influence of alternative break experiences on students' continued involvement in civic activities. The research revealed that, despite the limitations of short-‐term service projects, students who participated in alternative breaks became sensitive to social issues and seemed committed to community causes. Three specific recommendations are offered. Among them, reflection is highlighted as a process designed to help students derive meaning from their experiences and develop positive attitudes to civic engagement.
-‐Peace Studies Institute @ University of Notre Dame intensive program, held June 10-‐15, 2012, brings together teams of academics who want to launch a peace studies program, strengthen or develop a new dimension to a peace studies program, or move an established peace studies program to the next level of design and rigor. To learn more, check out http://kroc.nd.edu/krocnews/news/kroc-‐announces-‐4th-‐annual-‐summer-‐institute-‐faculty-‐peace-‐ studies-‐program-‐development-‐9
-‐This semester and into the summer, Valencia will keep up its steady involvement in the Democracy Commitment through a number of endeavors – ♦Attendance at and participation in the national Democracy Commitment conference in San Antonio, Texas in June ♦Production of a video detailing Valencia’s commitment to promoting education of democratic principles and community leadership to be screened at the American Democracy Project conference this summer
Calendar of Events
April 19th – Earth Day events, 10am-‐2pm, all campuses April 19th – Faculty Council meeting, 2:30-‐5pm, West 6-‐202 April 20th – Voter Registration, 10am-‐2pm, East Great Hall April 23rd – Student Affairs Leadership Team (SALT) meeting, 10am-‐12pm, Osceola 3-‐319H May 5th – Valencia College Commencement, 10am May 9th – Alternative Delivery Steering Committee, 2-‐4pm, West 6-‐202 May 10th – West Campus Faculty Senate, 1:15-‐3:30pm, West 6-‐202 May 17th – Faculty Council meeting, 2:30-‐5pm, East 3-‐113 May 21st – SALT meeting, 10am-‐12pm, Winter Park 107 June 7th-‐9th – National American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas June 13th – College Curriculum Committee, 2-‐5pm, West 6-‐202 Faculty Development calendar – valenciacollege.edu/calendar/calendar.cfm?catid=37 Employee Activities calendar – valenciacollege.edu/calendar/calendar.cfm?catid=41 SAGE international education events – valenciacollege.edu/international/studyabroad/staff/events.cfm Internship and Workforce Services on-‐campus recruitment dates – valenciacollege.edu/internship/jobResources/onCampusRecruitment.cfm Peace and Justice Initiative calendar – valenciacollege.edu/PJI/events/calendar.cfm
For other college calendars of events, workshops, etc., check out valenciacollege.edu/calendar