ENACT In Action in Four States

University of Hartford Prof. Owens and her students visit the Hartford State Capitol

University of Hartford Prof. Owens and her students visit the Hartford State Capitol

Dec 2, 2016

This fall, students in Connecticut, Florida, Iowa and Maine joined ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation. In courses designed and taught by members of the first cohort of ENACT Faculty Fellows they studied state legislation, visited state capitols and met with current and former legislators and leaders of community organizations. Using ENACT’s online network they connected with each other and with alumni of the Brandeis ENACT course, “Advocacy for Policy Change,” taught since 2010 by ENACT Academic Program Director Prof. Melissa Stimell.

Some highlights from the fall

Student Myeisha Boyd tries out the Charter Oak Chair (carved from the Charter Oak), which sits on the dais of the Senate Chamber.

In October, Prof. Katharine Owens and the students of her University of Hartford ENACT seminar toured the Connecticut State Capitol, hosted by a representative of the League of Women Voters. They got a feel for state-level policymaking, and learned about the Connecticut Legislative Internship from two staff members who are former interns. "Visiting the Capitol was an amazing experience for me," says student Myeisha Boyd (pictured above, sitting in the Charter Oak Chair). "Walking into the building where legislation is enacted I really was able to grasp how legislators conduct meetings to vote on bills. I hope that I am able to one day become a leader in government to create a positive impact one podium at a time."

Maine State Rep. Tipping-SpitzIn November, State Representative Ryan Tipping-Spitz discussed strategies for effective state legislative advocacy with Prof. Robert Glover’s ENACT students at the University of Maine (at right). During next year’s legislative session Rep. Tipping-Spitz will connect them with legislators in the leadership and those sponsoring legislation. State Representative Trey Stewart (a former student of Prof. Glover) will also be meeting with the students during their visits to Augusta – ensuring that they confer with Maine legislators from both sides of the aisle.

The students in Prof. Victor Eno’s ENACT courses at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University have been delving deeply into the state-level legislative process, as they prepare to meet with a newly-elected Florida state senator later in the year. This fall they met via Skype with Anna Khandros, an alumna of the ENACT course at Brandeis. They discussed the DNA access bill Khandros worked on as a student, and how she has used the skills she learned in ENACT since graduating in 2011.

Darcie Vandegrift’s Drake University ENACT students have been collaborating with Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP State Area Conferences of Branches. They attended an NAACP conference and participated in workshops led by national and state experts about legislative issues related to their projects in the course: opposing racial profiling, supporting fair-chance employment, and civil forfeiture reform. They also met with Iowa ACLU attorney Erica Johnson about these bills and efforts to provide driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and to repeal Iowa’s “English Only” statute. The students are completing research reports they will deliver to stakeholders and legislators to support their efforts on these issues. “ENACT is helping my students engage with the political process in new ways,” says Vandegrift. “They are diving into concrete responses to racial justice issues about which they hold commitments.”

ENACT courses are being taught in six more states this spring, including year seven of the original ENACT course, at Brandeis. For news and updates: go.brandeis.edu/ENACT