International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life

ENACT Awarded Multiyear Grant to Expand to All 50 States

May 17, 2019

teagle foundation logoIn just three years ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation has grown from a popular and impactful Legal Studies Program course and Ethics Center initiative at Brandeis University, to a thriving network of 29 faculty fellows in 29 states across the country.

Now, a three-year, $325,000 grant awarded by the New York-based Teagle Foundation, as part of its "Education for American Civic Life" initiative is making possible the expansion of ENACT to all 50 states — a goal from the beginning.

"We are delighted to support expansion of the ENACT program," says Teagle Foundation President Andrew Delbanco. "Helping young people to understand and engage in deliberative democracy is an urgent task, and Brandeis is showing a way forward."

"ENACT is building a community of civically engaged young people who have the skills and experience to effectively and ethically participate in our democracy," says ENACT Academic Program Director Melissa Stimell. "This Teagle Foundation grant is enabling ENACT to recruit, induct and support faculty fellows from the 21 remaining states, creating a community that will add 1,000 civic learners annually. These faculty fellows and students become a part of a unique network: multi-state, multi-issue, multiperspective."

ENACT faculty fellows, students and alumni connect online and in person to share ideas and resources, and to develop understanding of each other’s perspectives and political contexts. They also attend events — both in-person and via video conference — such as this year's Forum on Women's Political Engagement.

"As ENACT expands, it demands more networking capacity and capability," notes ENACT Assistant Director David Weinstein. "With this support from the Teagle Foundation, we will intensify the ENACT digital platform as a forum for conversation, collaboration, research dissemination and comparative study. That is at the heart of ENACT."

In Colorado: Cadets and the Constitution

State senator speaks with ENACT students at Capitol in Hartford, Conn.University of Hartford ENACT students speak with state Sen. Eric Berthel during a visit to the Connecticut State Capitol in May.

At the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, ENACT is integrated into "Introduction to American Government and National Security," a core required class that reaches all students from all majors and disciplines.

"Participation in ENACT has been a wonderful experience for our Cadets," says Faculty Fellow Lynne Chandler-García. "We've always had an assignment where they analyzed a policy with respect to constitutional principles. This is extremely important because as military members sworn to defend the Constitution with their lives, they must understand it. However, the assignment always fell flat."

"This year, I modified it with the help of ENACT. Students traced the path of a bill, analyzed supporters and detractors, in some cases contacted the legislators sponsoring the bill for more info, and then determined if they thought the bill should pass. The assignment came alive. Students understood the policymaking process in a new light, and some commented that this was their favorite assignment in the course."

ENACT has opened other doors for cadets at the Academy as well. This spring, a cadet remotely attended ENACT's Forum on Women's Political Engagement and participated in the Q&A, and was so impressed that she asked to be included in future ENACT programs.

"From this experience," notes Chandler García, "that cadet was selected to host Lt. Gen. David Barno, former head of Combined Forces Command — Afghanistan and Dr. Nadia Schadlow, former Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, when they visit the Academy in the fall."

In Kentucky: Interns and Insights

Across the country in Kentucky, Jacob Herold experienced the power of the ENACT network as a student in Faculty Fellow Jason Gainous' course at the University of Louisville, which integrates internship experiences at the State Capitol in Frankfort.

"I was grateful to have the opportunity to interact directly with my peers in different regions of the country as they progressed through experiences similar to my own," Herold says. "The ENACT network afforded me the opportunity to see firsthand that the more we do to connect to our fellow citizens and exchange information and work through thoughtful public policy proposals, the more we will expand our capacity to meet the challenges faced by Kentuckians, Massachusettsans and those in every community in between."