ENACT

Learn more about ENACT: the Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation.

taylor weigel

A Student Perspective on ENACT

Taylor Weigel ’17, a student in ENACT Faculty Fellow Darcie Vandegrift’s course “Introduction to Race and Ethnic Relations” at Drake University in Iowa reflected on the experience in a blog post, excerpted below.

“[The] English Language Reaffirmation Act, more commonly known as the English Only Law, was signed into law in 2002 in Iowa. …I did not understand how such a symbolically mean, anti-immigrant law could be passed in a state that was praised for its “Midwestern nice” attitude. …Meeting locals from the community with firsthand knowledge of legislators’ personal opinions helped me understand why the bill to repeal the English Only Law was shot down in committee in 2015. …

I met with individuals from the Iowa Commission on Latino Affairs, our local chapter of the Industrial Areas Foundation (AMOS: A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy), the Iowa/Nebraska NAACP lobbying team, and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).... These professionals from the Des Moines community provided me with insight I could not find in research. They were blunt. They were honest. They were inquisitive. But most of all, they were supportive. …

Now, I am more determined than ever to lobby for this bill this legislative season, and to repeal the English Language Reaffirmation Act in Iowa. This would not have been possible without the class…and our community interactions with leaders and advocates from around Des Moines.”

Read more about Weigel’s experience.

At a Time of Political Change, a Focus on State Government

ENACT map

Faculty Fellows at 16 schools are teaching ENACT courses

June 10, 2017

At this time of political upheaval and recalibration in the United States there has been a renewed focus on state government. Into this context steps the Ethics Center’s newest program. ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation has just finished its first academic year supporting professors and undergraduates across the country as they engage with state-level politics.

ENACT Faculty Fellows at 16 colleges and universities in or near state capitals are teaching undergraduates how to work with community organizations, state legislators and staff to effectively influence state government.

Louis D. Brandeis called the states “laboratories of democracy” – the places were democratic innovation and advancement begins, where citizens can directly engage with their representatives and influence legislation and policy with more immediacy than is often possible at the federal level.

That is the philosophy that grounds ENACT. The mission of the program is to be a major voice in addressing challenges to American democracy by engaging young people around the country in civic activism built on knowledge, cooperation, justice and integrity.

While many people are struggling to understand how to best make an impact on policy, ENACT is providing undergraduates with academic grounding and direct experience. “This class is changing my students’ view of government and giving them a sense of empowerment that they would not have otherwise gotten,” said Dr. Kathleen Cole of Metropolitan State University. “They are passionate and full of excitement about the possibility for democratic control for our communities.”

“ENACT offers the promise of inspiring and supporting students across the nation to become engaged citizens, even as they inform and empower their own legislators.” writes William T. Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Some highlights from the spring:

Mississippi

University of Mississippi StudentsFaculty Fellow James Slack’s students met with Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden, their legislative liaison for the ENACT course, at the Mississippi State Capitol in January. (See photo.) "It was 'deadline' day," says Dr. Slack. "All bills going from one chamber to the other had to be passed by the original chamber by 8 p.m. – but that made it incredibly real.” Prof. Slack’s students are enrolled in the Trent Lott Leadership Institute’s Department of Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi.

New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire StudentsIn April, Faculty Fellow Stephen Pimpare’s University of New Hampshire at Manchester ENACT students shared their work with community members and legislators as part of the university’s Undergraduate Research Conference. Pictured below, University of New Hampshire students meeting with Senator Lou D'Allesandro, "the Dean of the New Hampshire Senate."

IdahoFloats and Mendonsa

This spring Cate Floate and Joe Mendonsa won “Best of College” at Boise State University’s Service-Learning Student Exhibition, for their ENACT project on sign language interpreter licensure. The exhibition showcases exemplary service-learning projects, and selects a Best of College based on the quality of the project and poster. In Faculty Fellow Jaclyn Kettler’s ENACT course “Comparative State Politics” they researched and supported an Idaho House bill requiring sign language interpreters to get a professional license. Their poster detailed their work and reflected on the citizen’s role in the state legislative process.

Coming this fall:

The ever-growing cohort of ENACT alumni are offering advice to current ENACT students, and are sharing their research and materials with students working on related issues in other states, using the online ENACT network, which is integrated into ENACT courses.

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More ENACT courses will be taught in the 2017-18 academic year. Click here for news and updates.