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

The ENACT Faculty Fellows (Cohort One):

Jay Barth Hendrix College, Conway, Arkansas

Mark E. Button – University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Kathleen Cole – Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minnesota

Victor Eno – Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida

Robert W. Glover – University of Maine, Orono, Maine

Sheila Suess Kennedy – Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana

Jaclyn Kettler – Boise State University, Boise, Idaho

Daniel C. Lewis – Siena College, Loudonville, New York

Rich Meagher – Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia

Adam Myers – Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island

Katharine Owens – University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut

Stephen Pimpare – University of New Hampshire, Manchester, New Hampshire

Eileen Scully – Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont

James D. Slack – University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

Darcie Vandegrift – Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

Faculty Fellows from 15 States Come to Brandeis to Support “Laboratories of Democracy”

ENACT Fellows and staff joined by Representatives Hecht and Kaufman in the Massachusetts State House Chambers

ENACT Fellows and staff joined by Representatives Hecht and Kaufman in the Massachusetts State House Chambers

May 26, 2016

Is government dysfunctional? Can change come through the legislative process?

Brandeis University namesake Louis D. Brandeis suggested that the states can be “laboratories of democracy.” A new national program based at Brandeis called ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation takes inspiration in part from that idea.

ENACT seeks to be a major voice in addressing challenges to American democracy by engaging undergraduates in colleges and universities across the country in state-level legislative change.

The core of ENACT will be courses taught at colleges and universities across the country, with the support of a national in-person and online network connecting the faculty and staff in those courses with each other and with others committed to engaging in effective, ethical state-level legislative change.

On May 22nd, just hours after Brandeis University’s 65th commencement, the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life welcomed the inaugural cohort of 15 ENACT Faculty Fellows to Brandeis. They hail from colleges and universities in or near state capitals across the United States, and are leading the expansion of ENACT, which builds on an initiative begun at Brandeis.

The five-day workshop at Brandeis was designed to support their work in the courses they will be teaching beginning in Fall 2016, as well as their participation in the national ENACT network. As they teach their ENACT courses over the next several years, Fellows will advance this work together, learning from one another’s pedagogy and sharing in each other’s successes. Students in ENACT courses will learn how to work with community organizations, state legislators and legislative staff members to advance policy. ENACT aims to foster civic activism built in knowledge, cooperation, justice and integrity.ENACT Fellows in discussion at the ENACT Institute

During the May institute the Fellows discussed the challenges and opportunities of this is work, and shared their expertise from related courses they teach at their home institutions around the country. (See the full list of Fellows.) They discussed approaches to learning about and engaging with the legislative advocacy process with Brandeis students from ENACT Academic Program Director Melissa Stimell’s course “Advocacy for Policy Change” (LGLS 161b) which is the centerpiece of a model program for civic engagement of the same name that since 2010 has engaged Brandeis undergraduates with the legislative process on key, state-level social issues.

The Fellows participated in workshops with professionals from advocacy organizations, and spent a day at the Massachusetts State House, hosted by Massachusetts State Representative Jay Kaufman ’68, MA ’73, a longtime supporter of ENACT who serves as Distinguished Legislator for the program. At the State House the Fellows met with legislators and legislative staff, consulted with Rep. Kaufman – and were officially recognized from the House floor by the Speaker while the legislature was in session.

The ENACT Faculty Fellows returned to their home institutions after an intense week of collaboration and learning energized and ready to further their work building the next generation of engaged citizens.

“The most enriching part of the ENACT Institute was connecting with like-minded scholars and educators throughout the country, learning about the innovative ways they are working with students to initiate and affect policy change in their respective states,” says Robert Glover, Assistant Professor of Honors and Political Science at the University of Maine. “The experience was extremely rewarding and left me energized, ready to envision the possibilities of my own courses in a fundamentally new light.”

“In addition to the intellectual stimulation provided by ENACT faculty and the other attendees, the sessions provided us with a number of concrete mechanisms for introducing students to the nuances of state-level policymaking,” notes Sheila Suess Kennedy, Professor of Law and Public Policy at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, where she directs the IUPUI Center for Civic Literacy. This is particularly important, says Kennedy, because “too many students (and citizens) fail to recognize the ways in which our federal system works, and the impact of state and local policy on their lives. The focus on state-level legislation is a necessary corrective to public affairs curricula that tend to emphasize either municipal or federal policy, and to ignore or shortchange state-level legislative issues.”

“It was inspiring to hear legislator and activist perspectives on the policy making process – what works, what doesn't, and how important it is to be an active citizen,” adds Katharine Owens, Associate Professor in the Department of Politics, Economics, and International Studies at the University of Hartford, and Director of the Environmental Studies Program. “ENACT taught me how to infuse my courses with lessons to effectively engage my students on the state policy issues that are most important to them.”

This new major program of the Ethics Center is made possible by a generous gift from Ethics Center Board member Norbert Weissberg and his wife, former Board member Judith Schneider. For more about ENACT and to sign up for updates: