ISU lauded nationally for active citizenship program
Illinois State’s efforts to engage students in activities that sharpen skills related to political processes and leadership have been lauded, as the University is the sole recipient of the 2011 New York Times Political Engagement Project (PEP) Program of Excellence Award.
Part of the American Democracy Project, PEP addresses the problem of political disengagement in young people and advocates a dramatic increase in university efforts to strengthen student interest in politics.
Illinois State was one of 12 institutions selected to participate in PEP, and is now considered a model for campuses across the country. The project is an initiative of the Provost’s Office in collaboration with Student Affairs.
“Illinois State students are encouraged to be responsible citizens and leave here with skills that will help them make meaningful contributions to their communities and their country,” President Al Bowman said. “This award validates the hard work of faculty and staff to incorporate political engagement in the classroom and beyond.”
Beginning as freshmen, approximately 3,500 students annually are exposed to PEP efforts in the curriculum. Enrichment opportunities exist across disciplines. Many new activities, assignments, and discussion topics have been developed, including election issues, community involvement, and diversity.
PEP is also integrated into cocurricular activities through hall meetings with elected officials and debates on timely political topics. An internship in Washington, D.C., is now offered.
“The national Program of Excellence Award recognizes Illinois State’s leadership in preparing graduates for active citizenship,” said ISU Communication Professor Steve Hunt, who is a Carnegie PEP Scholar.
“Illinois State faculty, staff, and students contribute significantly to the community by deeply integrating the Political Engagement Project into the curriculum and cocurriculum,” Hunt said. “We are honored to be selected as the inaugural winner of the prestigious award.”