Democracy cafe promoting student, community conversations
Contemporary Community Issues, known as Poli Sci 275 in the undergraduate catalog, just got more intriguing. Jynette Larshus, Minot State University sociology and political science professor, is introducing an ongoing event, "Democracy Café," and is taking students out of the classroom and into the community to engage in real-world discussion with community leaders.
"My goal is to foster non-partisan discussion on important civic issues in our community, and to connect students and community members who care about the issues," she said.
Rather than bring guests into class, Larshus decided to host Democracy Café at MSU's student-run Beaver Brew Café and invite both presenters and interested community members for a cup of coffee. She figured the Beaver Brew Café would be a comfortable setting where students and other guests could learn more, share perspectives, brainstorm and meet others who share their passion.
Beginning Sept. 17, from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m., Democracy Café will host facilitators every three weeks. The first program will feature Bethany Andreasen, assistant history professor, and Mark Timbrook, instructional design coordinator and published historian, to discuss "100 Years of MSU Civic Engagement."
"I think our first discussion sets a nice foundation for the Cafe regarding MSU's involvement and contributions in the region over the last century," Larshus commented. "Ultimately, students will set the agenda for topics they are interested in learning about. With the dramatic changes taking place in the community, the goal is to connect students with the community and the community with the students to make a positive change."
Democracy Café's inaugural meeting also coincides with Constitution Day, an annual event commemorating the formation and signing of the Constitution of the United States Sept. 17, 1787. MSU's Sociology Club and History Club sponsor "Free Speech Plaza" and invite students to comment on current issues posted in the MSU Quad. "Free Speech Plaza" is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Democracy Café is open to the public, and is funded in part by MSU's Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning. It is also part of MSU's commitment to the Democracy Project in conjunction with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
For more information and a complete schedule of topics, contact Larshus at Jynette.email@example.com or 858-4324.