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Date: Jan 24, 2007
CENTER FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT DEBUTS AT HOFSTRA
Stresses student involvement to strengthen democratic process
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY - Believing that informed and involved students are more likely to participate in the democratic process, Hofstra University has formed The Center for Civic Engagement to encourage students to become active citizens.
"Democracies need engaged citizens," said Cynthia Bogard, Ph.D., the Center's director. "And the habit of active involvement in one's civic life typically starts in one's youth. The Hofstra community wants to make sure that our students are given every opportunity to practice civic involvement while they are learning with us. We see it as an intrinsic part of the holistic curriculum that Hofstra seeks to provide our students."
Dr. Bogard, an associate professor of sociology, said that students have often commented that they felt powerless to influence the course of the nation's politics. The Center was founded, in part, so that "students understand the necessity of citizen involvement if democracy is to go forward," she said.
Among the principles the Center will stress are freedom of speech and expression, respect for others, appreciation for diverse persons and viewpoints, the ethics of public issues, personal and group empowerment, social and economic equality, and preservation of the environment.
Formed by a group of faculty members over the past two years, the Center had its official debut on Feb. 2 with the opening of Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace, an international peace exhibit that focuses on three individuals who promoted peace and social change through non-violent action. The exhibit will run through March 22 at the David and Sondra Mack Student Center.
The center will also sponsor a number of upcoming events related to the peace exhibit, including the film Citizen King, Monday, February 5, 2007, from 7-9 p.m. in the Leo A. Guthart Cultural Center Theater, north campus; and a discussion of Postmodern Gandhi and Other Essays: Gandhi in the World and at Home by Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph (2006), Wednesday, February 14, 2007, from 1-2 p.m. and from 8-9 p.m. at the Great Neck Library.
The Center, whose founding members have already sponsored campus student voter drives and leadership training and issue conferences, will also sponsor this spring "Day of Dialogue IV, U.S. Policy and the World: Where do We Go From Here?" a one-day Hofstra student conference on March 21, 2007 that will explore social and political issues through debate and dialogue; and "Crossing Borders Training," a series of events for Hofstra student leaders intended to foster sustained work and friendship relations between students of varying ethnic/religious/racial backgrounds.
Michael D'Innocenzo, The Harry H. Wachtel Distinguished Teaching Professor for the Study of Nonviolent Social Change at Hofstra., said the new institute will give a sharper focus to youth and citizen empowerment programs that have been developed by Hofstra faculty and students over the years, including the Hofstra Public Policy Institute, launched 15 years ago by Prof. D'Innocenzo and the late Dr. Leon Hellerman. The Institute, which has sponsored more than 300 forums at the University and in the wider community, developed special projects with West Islip High School where students not only learned deliberative skills but researched and wrote their own issues books and developed, along with Hofstra alumnus Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, a new course, The Impact of Deliberative Democracy and Leadership on American Society.
All these projects received support from the Kettering Foundation, The Herman Goldman Foundation and the National Issues Forum Institute, as well as from the family of Harry Wachtel, Dr. King's longtime attorney who later taught political science at Hofstra and donated his papers to the University's archives.
The Center for Civic Engagement has a faculty advisory board of about 25 members. For more information on the Center, contact the Sociology Department at Hofstra at 516-463-5640 or go to www.hofstra.edu/cce.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students find their edge to succeed in more than 140 undergraduate and 155 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business, communication, education and allied human services, and honors studies, as well as a School of Law. With a student-faculty ratio of 14-to-1, our professors teach small classes averaging 25 students that emphasize interaction, critical thinking and analysis. Hofstra offers a faculty whose highest priority is teaching excellence, cutting edge technology, extensive library resources, internships and special educational programs that appeal to their interests and abilities. The Hofstra community is driven, dynamic and energetic, helping students find and focus their strengths to prepare them for a successful future.
Related Link: Center for Civic Engagement