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Living Democracy program adjusts, perseveres to give students civic engagement opportunities

Pictured from left to right: Harrison Carter, Thomas Chapman, Amy Clark, Addison Peacock

While many things have changed due to the pandemic, one thing remains steadfast – the College of Liberal Arts’ commitment to students and their opportunity to participate in community and civic engagement through the Living Democracy program.

Now in its ninth year, the Living Democracy program brings together students and citizens to collaborate on issues of concern to Alabama communities. Students are paired with one of our Alabama communities for a ten-week experience in community and civic engagement. Students work collaboratively with community partners and local citizens to design, execute, and evaluate community projects.

This year’s four student participants are Harrison Carter, Thomas Chapman, Amy Clark, and Addison Peacock.

While the summer of 2020 hasn't allowed the normal community living experience, the four students are determined to continue learning. They are working – as so many Americans have – by utilizing the resources available to them, which for this program include distance learning and phone interviews with citizens in Camden, Chatom, Collinsville, and Elba. They are working closely with community partners to discover what it means to live democracy.

Harrison Carter, from Montgomery, is a senior political science major who planned to spend 10 weeks in Elba. Although that is not possible, Carter said, “I joined the program because I knew I would be able to learn about what it’s like to be civically engaged in small town America.” His primary community partner is Justin Maddox with the nonprofit organization Restoration154.

Thomas Chapman, from Saraland, is a sophomore electrical engineering major, who is working with community partner Jessica Ross, director of the Washington County Library. He said, “When I applied for Living Democracy, I saw an opportunity to learn more about civic life, and to learn more about other places in Alabama.”

Amy Clark, from Columbus, Georgia, is a senior majoring in economics and journalism. She is working with community partners Sulynn Creswell, executive director, and Kristin Law, arts programs and marketing director, at Black Belt Treasures in Camden.

Addison Peacock, a junior majoring in musical theatre and an ensemble member of the Mosaic Theatre Company, is working with community partner Jennifer Wilkins, head librarian at the Collinsville Public Library. Peacock, a native of Auburn, said, “I hope to learn about the character of my community, and how its citizens are continuing to uplift local democracy even during a difficult and chaotic year. “

Hannah White, who lived in Collinsville as a 2019 Living Democracy student, is a graduate assistant working as a mentor and social media coordinator this summer.

Coordinated by the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and the David Mathews Center for Civic Life, the Living Democracy program prepares undergraduate college students for civic life.

Tags: Students Community and Outreach

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