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ASU joins national effort to promote youth participation in politics

ASU has joined a national effort led by Harvard's Institute of Politics to engage students in political and civic activities.

Arizona State University’s (ASU) College of Public Programs is leveraging its strengths in public service and policy, joining a national effort led by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) to encourage participation and engagement in politics by America’s young people. 

Created in 2003, the IOP’s “National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement” includes a consortium of twenty-five colleges and universities around the country committed to creating more politically and civically engaged campuses. 

ASU student representatives from the Spirit of Service Scholars program recently joined four dozen other undergraduates from National Campaign schools across the country for the Campaign’s annual conference on fostering campus civic engagement held at the IOP Oct. 4-6. “Change Agents: Tools for Effective Advocacy” featured Harvard faculty, former Institute Fellows, instructional workshops and panel discussions.   

“The opportunity to attend this conference and become a National Campaign Ambassador helps me build a stronger foundation to achieve my aspirations and to implement initiatives at ASU,” says Shireen Nouri, an ASU graduate student who is taking a lead in advocacy for health care disparities and inequalities in education, particularly for underrepresented groups. “As a Spirit of Service Scholar, I have grown to understand the immense importance of networking with other inspiring individuals and building skills for leadership in advocacy.”

Participating schools work both locally and collaboratively in three key areas: establishing an ongoing relationship with electoral politics; focusing on career development in public service; and ensuring a foundation in civic education. 

“We are proud to partner with ASU’s College of Public Programs to promote youth civic engagement in Arizona,” says Trey Grayson, Institute of Politics Director and Kentucky Secretary of State (2004-11).

“The IOP’s vision for working with other educational institutions to engage students on their campuses in elective politics, careers in public service and civic education deeply resonates with our vision for Arizona State University,” says Jonathan Koppell, dean of ASU’s College of Public Programs. “We seek to produce graduates imbued with a profound sense of service to their community and civic engagement.”

“As Harvard undergraduates, Dean Koppell and I worked together as Institute of Politics student leaders – he knows our mission well. I am confident that adding ASU to the Institute’s National Campaign will strengthen efforts to encourage youth involvement in the political process,” Grayson adds.

Participation in the National Campaign complements programs like ASU’s Spirit of Service Scholars and Changemaker Central which are aimed at encouraging and affirming student interest in public service. These initiatives provide students with financial, educational and mentoring support and prepare them to assume leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors.

“For both the Spirit of Service Scholars and IOP, the focus is on engagement and collaboration—not the simple acquisition of knowledge,” says Cary Kelly, an economics undergraduate student.

In addition to taking action to spur student political involvement on their respective campuses, the IOP Campaign works during the academic year to:

  • issue specific recommendations for government, media, campaigns and educational institutions to promote political and civic engagement;
  • collect and make available key research; and
  • create new training opportunities for organizations and individuals seeking to promote youth engagement and participation. 

The National Campaign’s twenty-five consortium schools are: Allegheny College, Arizona State University, Birmingham Southern College, Elon University, Franklin & Marshall College, Harvard University, Louisiana State University, Ohio State University, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Saint Anselm College, Simpson College, Tennessee State University, Tufts University, University of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Kansas, University of Louisville, University of Oklahoma, University of Rochester, University of Southern California, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, University of Texas, University of Utah, University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University.

Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. The IOP’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service.  The Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. More information is available online at   

The College of Public Programs at Arizona State University is training a new generation of leaders committed to improving our collective destiny. The College brings creativity, a spirit of experimentation and systems-level thinking to the shared challenge of creating and maintaining public goods, linking analytic depth with concern for the practical challenge of institutional design, implementation and management. At the heart of the College and its programs lie the challenges and opportunities of urban living and governance. In our teaching and research, we confront the challenges faced by humanity in complex metropolitan regions and work toward solutions to the accompanying social, environmental and economic pressures.

At ASU, being socially embedded with a diversity of academic partners is a philosophy that pervades the entire university. We have championed partnerships with organizations of all sizes from emergent local nonprofit organizations to mature, national enterprises like Teach for America. ASU has 491 community outreach programs in 174 locations, offered by 121 different units, totaling 751 outreach opportunities.

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