More than 70 undergraduates from 28 colleges and universities worked together to create a series of concrete action plans to help reconnect America at the annual National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement conference organized by the Institute for Politics.
During the weekend of February 3-5, 2017, student ambassadors identified what they saw as the root causes of national divisiveness and outlined plans to take leadership roles creating community-based action plans to address those issues.
IOP National Campaign chairperson, Nivedita Khandkar, Harvard ’19, and a student committee worked with conference director Joe Kearns Goodwin and IOP staff to support the effort. “We plan to take a bottom-up approach; if we devise ways for individuals to reconnect and understand one another, we can apply those same tactics in the political arena,” said Khandkar.
IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe conducted a town hall with students to identify significant issues they want to address in breakout planning sessions held over two days. He also discussed the results of a national poll conducted for the conference, which identified broad support among Millennials 18-29 for a program of national service as one way to begin a national reconciliation.
Since 2003, the college and university alliance has held annual conferences to identify collaborative projects, foster engagement in electoral politics, assist students in pursuing careers in public service, and provide a foundation in civic education. Led by a team of Harvard undergraduate students, the collegiate ambassadors to the National Campaign collaborate to achieve concrete goals, such as working with local election offices to improve the voting experience for their campus communities.
National Campaign conference participating academic institutions include Vanderbilt, The Ohio State University, Franklin & Marshall College, Tennessee State University, University of Southern California, University of Utah, Saint Anselm College, Georgetown University, Simpson College, Allegheny College, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Rutgers University, Elon University, University of Louisville, Rochester University, Arizona State University, University of Florida, Louisiana State University, University of Virginia, Tufts University, University of Texas, University of Chicago, University of Kansas, and Colby College, University of Oklahoma, Howard University and the United States Military Academy.