Four Simpson Students Head to Harvard to Participate in Civic Engagement Conference

Four Simpson College students will participate Feb. 3-5 in the National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement conference at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (IOP).

Students Danielle Bates of Kansas City, Mo., Jacob Bruns of Washington, Iowa, Randy Paulson of Grinnell and Emily Schwickerath of New Hampton will attend the conference with Seth Andersen, director of the John C. Culver Public Policy Center at Simpson College. All four students are recipients of the Culver Fellowship, which supports their studies in politics and public policy.

The 2017 National Campaign conference will focus on identifying the root causes of national divisiveness following the 2016 presidential election and work to formulate strategies to bridge gaps between all Americans. Student ambassadors and staff members from 28 colleges and universities across the country will convene on the Harvard campus with the mission to create a nationally coordinated program to Reconnect America.

Since 2003, the 28 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 work together to achieve concrete goals, such as working with local election offices to improve the voting experience for their campus communities.

“This year’s National Campaign conference provides a tremendous opportunities for Culver Fellows at Simpson College to collaboratively develop strategies to promote constructive dialogue across partisan and ideological divides,” said Andersen said.

“We believe the National Campaign is a unique medium for a diverse group of students who represent the many different facets of the Millennial generation to come together to gain valuable perspective and formulate actionable plans to reconnect a divided America,“ said 2017 National Campaign conference director Joe Kearns Goodwin.

Congressman Bill Delahunt, 2017 National Campaign Conference chairman, underscored the IOP’s commitment to supporting multifaceted programs that bring voices together to find common purpose. “Now, more than ever, we think programs like this, which allow students to openly discuss areas of political and social disagreement, will enable those of differing viewpoints to understand one another, thus restoring a measure of civility to the contentious discourse that often characterizes politics today.”

The participating colleges and universities include Allegheny College, Arizona State University, Colby College, Elon University, Franklin & Marshall College, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Louisiana State University, The Ohio State University, Rutgers University, Saint Anselm College, Simpson College, Tennessee State University, Tufts University, United States Military Academy, University of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Louisville, University of Rochester, University of Southern California, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, University of Utah, University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University.

In recent weeks, the IOP has hosted the Campaign Decision Makers Conference, which brought together the key managers of the presidential primary and general election campaigns to engage in rare, informative discussions of their views, strategies and tactics.

The IOP’s biennial Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected members of Congress, held in early December, provided an environment where the participating members of the 115th Congress Freshman Class engaged in a discussion on “how they will work across party lines.” Out of that discussion came a joint statement vowing to “work together when we can and where we can for the American People.”