CSU, Chico News

Students Examine Policy Issues at Town Hall Meeting

Date: 11-17-2015

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Diana Dwyre, professor
Dept. of Political Science

Hundreds of California State University, Chico students will tackle issues ranging from job creation to K-12 education at a town hall meeting Thursday, Nov. 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Bell Memorial Union (BMU) Auditorium and other campus locations. Event coordinators anticipate more than 700 student and community participants.

CSU, Chico’s Town Hall Meeting Program is embedded in the University’s first-year political science course on American government. It offers students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and community members on solving current policy issues.

After opening remarks in the BMU, students 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 campus and the community serving as consultants to assist with next steps in research and the development of a plan for civic action. Consultants include City Council members, city managers, political activists, nonprofit advocates, educators and graduate students.

A variety of topics are on the table, including the environment, the economy, veterans’ issues, human trafficking, Chico alcohol and drug policies, homelessness, crime and punishment, energy and animal policies.

Political science major Luis Tiznado has been selected to speak at the opening event. He will discuss his experience at previous Town Hall Meetings.

More than 100 student participants will be invited to participate in a Dec. 8 civic engagement forum, where they will present the outcomes of their research and the actions they took to work on their issue.

Participant surveys show that students who engage in the Town Hall Meeting have a higher persistence rate at CSU, Chico and are more likely to be engaged citizens. The data also show that students feel more strongly that they can have a meaningful impact on the University and community as a result of participating, said political science professor Diana Dwyre, who teaches an introductory political science course to 400 students who participate in the event.

“Before Town Hall, students aren’t sure about what to expect,” Dwyre said. “After Town Hall, they talk about it like an experience that they hope everyone else can get. They’re excited to hear from their peers and policy experts and to share their own ideas and research and how it empowered them.”

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 students’ transition to college life, and the Department of Political Science.

Several colleges and universities around the nation have modeled or are considering modeling programs after Chico State’s, including Cleveland State University; CSU, Fullerton; Pierce College in Los Angeles and Butte College. This week, administrators from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas will visit to learn from the University’s program.

For more information, please contact Director of Civic Engagement Ellie Ertle at 530-898-3068.


Caption: Chico consultant Dan Beveridge leads students in a discussion of energy issues at the fall 2014 Town Hall Meeting. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)