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CSU, Chico News

Hundreds of Students to Discuss Policy Issues at Town Hall Meeting

Date: 11-12-2013

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Ellie Clifford Ertle, Director
Civic Engagement

California State University, Chico students will lead conversations on topics ranging from energy policy to college funding at a town hall meeting Thursday, Nov. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Bell Memorial Union (BMU) Auditorium and other campus locations.

CSU, Chico’s Town Hall Meeting Program, established in 2006, helps students understand the political process and their role in government. About 600 first-year students enrolled in the University’s political science course on American government are expected to participate, said Ellie Clifford Ertle, director of Civic Engagement and faculty coordinator for the Town Hall Meeting Program. The biannual event provides students with a public arena for discussing current policy issues with other students, faculty, administrators and community members.

After opening remarks take place in the BMU, participants move to various locations on campus for breakout sessions. During these sessions, moderators encourage students to share their research with other students and interested participants. Students conclude the evening in small roundtable sessions with members of the campus and community serving as consultants to assist with next steps in research and the development of a plan for civic action. Consultants may include City Council members, political activists, nonprofit advocates, educators and graduate students.

Other topics to be discussed include voting rights, veterans’ issues, human trafficking, unemployment, immigration, food and water politics, Chico alcohol and drug policies, homelessness, crime and punishment, improving K-12 education, Internet privacy and freedom, birth control and reproductive rights, and animal policies.

Second-year economics student and Town Hall alum Cristian Bravo will provide a keynote address, Ertle said.

“Civic engagement and service are core values of CSU, Chico, so this event is just one more way our students are involved in both the local community and our 12-county region,” she said.

CSU, Chico’s Town Hall Meeting Program has garnered national attention in recent years, including a mention in a 2011 U.S. Department of Education white paper titled “A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future.” The paper sparked a national dialogue about strengthening students’ civic learning and democratic engagement as a core component of college study. Several colleges and universities have also modeled programs after Chico’s, including CSU, Fullerton and Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif.

The town hall program is a signature piece of CSU, Chico’s Public Sphere Pedagogy, which embeds a "public sphere" in first-year courses, moving students from a typical classroom setting to a dialogue-rich environment. The program is a collaborative effort between the First Year Experience, a campus program aimed at easing the transition to college life, and the Political Science Department. It is supported by the Office of Undergraduate Education and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

For more information, please visit www.csuchico.edu/fye/thm.