On Thursday, October 25, the Office of Civic Engagement will sponsor the 2018 Civic Engagement Fall Research Conference, “Religion and Civic Engagement,” where the BYU community can learn more about the need to be and the ways to be civically engaged in regards to religion.
The conference will be held from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and will host guest lecturers including Morris Okun, Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Arizona State University; David Campbell, Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame; and Richard Bushman, Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University. There will also be a BYU faculty panel as well as a BYU student panel.
Topics covered in the conference will range from religious beliefs and volunteer motivations, to the question of whether religious and secular Americans can find common ground in civic engagement.
The Civic Engagement Conference is a great opportunity for all students and faculty, particularly those interested in working in policy, politics, and community efforts, as they learn from experts about how religion effects engagement in our societies and communities.
An often-overlooked part of the American policy-making process involves researchers, academicians and others who gather and analyze data about the effects of certain public policies on various demographics, or on the problems that public policies can address. The erudition these researchers provide can be vital in informing public policy and the decisions of lawmakers. But yet, research shows that there is often a disconnect between research and rule, according to Dr. Karen Bogenschneider, director of the Policy Institute for Family Impact Seminars, who spoke at BYU’s Civic Engagement recent research conference.
“The story of U.S. social policy reveals a disturbing disconnect between the research community, what we call knowledge producers,” said Dr. Bogenschneider, “and the policymaking community, what we term knowledge consumers. Although the quantity of research has expanded dramatically in recent decades, its role in shaping policy decisions seldom matches the level warranted by the magnitude of the investment in science by government and the philanthropic communities, among others.” Her research on the topic was consolidated into a book published in 2010; it is currently in its third edition. It was from this book that she pulled the data she discussed at the conference. Coauthored with former Associate Director of the Institute for Research on poverty Thomas Corbett, the book details how to integrate research with policymaking.
In a panel discussion featuring Dr. Bogenschneider and School of Family Life professors Chelom Leavitt and Alan Hawkins, the trio discussed their experiences with bringing their research to legislators. Dr. Hawkins related that in the beginning, he thought if he simply brought his scholarship to policymakers, they would automatically utilize it in lawmaking. He quickly realized that this was not the case, that a connection needed to be established first. “It’s like match.com, nobody wants to make the first step,” said Dr. Bogenschneider.
Dr. Leavitt added that scientists needed to fit their research with what legislators were doing and that being both bi-cultural and bilingual is essential for social scientists. The three offered the following advice to researchers who want to get more involved in policymaking:
Seek out the lawmaker’s staff and share your research with them.
Hook yourself to a star who will get you there; find someone with an “in” and utilize their connections.
It’s more than relationships—it’s getting the right legislator. You may have a stellar relationship with a certain lawmaker, but if they’re not doing anything, find someone who is. You want a mover and shaker.
Dr. Bogenschneider has raised almost $3 million to support her research and outreach, according to Purdue University’s Family Impact Institute. She is a Rothermel Bascom Professor of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Family Policy Specialist at University of Wisconsin-Extension. She has served as director of the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars since 1993 and as Executive Director of the Policy Institute for Family Impact Seminars since 1999. In 2010, she received the Extension Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions by an Extension Specialist from the National Family Life and Children State Extension Specialists. In 2008, she received the Engagement Award from the Board of Human Sciences of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges and, in 2006, she was named a fellow of the National Council on Family Relations. She has also received several awards from her university for faculty excellence, land grant scholarship, and quality outreach.
Photo of Dr. Bogenschneider courtesy of Purdue University
Gordon Smith, a former Oregon senator, is no stranger to the strife of politics, but it is perhaps because of that very strife that he encourages others, particularly Latter-day Saints, to become involved in public service. “I am a witness to the fact that this world needs Latter-day Saints to excel in, not just medicine, not just law, not just business, not just the arts, but also in the art of government,” he said. He said the LDS values are the values that society, though without recognizing it, needs and admires.
At a recent Civic Engagement Leadership workshop, he cited a variety of public service opportunities, and reasons to take advantage of them, among them “a wonderful and rich life.” Smith said many LDS people will ask him what God cares about in government, and he responds by quoting Doctrine and Covenants 134, where God says that “the free exercise of conscience, the right to own property, and the protection of life is what God cares about in government. The rest is just stuff,” Smith said. “Remember those three principles, they were guiding principles for me and certainly can be for you.”
Whether you choose to be just an informed voter, or run for office, Smith provided helpful advice. To voters, he advised:
Ask of your elected officials: “Can you tell me one issue in which you would be in the minority, about which you feel so strongly that you would be willing to loose your office for?” “If they can’t do that, you might as well elect a weather vane,” Smith said.
Look for the “heart of the interest”, as many are motivated by a monetary interest.
To make sense of politicians, watch how they run their campaigns. They will often govern how they campaign.
Be wary of politicians who say that they are running because “its a natural extension of my service,” because that is self-centered, which is an antithesis of public service. He also warned against those who want to run government like a business, because it is not about a return on investment. It’s about writing rules that gives everybody a chance.
Look for authenticity. “People are hungry for [it,]” Smith said. “They want people that stand something, rather than fall for everything. Voters will forgive the differences of opinion, but they will not forgive failure to lead.”
Divide politicians into two groups: noisemakers and deal-makers. “It’s very difficult to be both,” he said. Noisemakers give the media what they want, and they make a lot of enemies, but they are needed because they set boundaries. Deal-makers are needed because they make things happen.
Holly Richardson, who spoke at a September 2016 Civic Engagement event, also provided these suggestions.
Running for Office
Though many may hesitate to fun for public office, particularly women, they may find that they’re more qualified than they think. Paige Albrecht, who ran for the Lehi Utah City Council in 2015 and won, met with community members, precinct chairs, and neighborhood influencers during her campaign. She said of them, in a 2016 Connections article: “The majority of them [were] women. They [were] extremely behind-the-scenes, [and] rarely [took] the stage themselves. When I ask[ed] why they [didn’t] run for office, I hear[d] things like ‘Oh, I could never do that!’ They just [didn’t] see themselves as leaders, while in reality they [were] doing more than they realize[d].”
That being said, Smith encouraged and cautioned those with a desire to run for office to:
Have a desire
Encourage and listen to criticism
Learn to communicate clearly and concisely. “Be able to answer why you are running, in 30 seconds or less,” he said.
Develop a conviction. Smith said the best advice he was ever given was to develop an opinion, through thorough research, and to write it out and and say it over and over, and that will help him develop a conviction.
Believe in something and fight to defend it.
Being in Elected Office
And for those who do run and win, he said:
Learn leadership. “You can’t be the jack of all trades,” Smith said.
Keep a vision
Learn how to delegate details
Practice the art of constructive compromise. “You have to remember that what you see depends on where you’ve sat in life, and where you sit in office,” Smith said. It’s critical for someone in authority to understand other people’s lives.”
Respond softly to vulgarity. “It will elevate and inform and protect you,” Smith said.
Do not forget the importance of honesty and integrity. These are your cornerstones. Smith said that people should be able to trust you, even if they disagree with you.
Keep your LDS covenants, because Smith said they will be a “shield and a protection to you.”
Smith’s Senate Service
The United States Senate influences the rest of the world through example, said Smith. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution are the greatest “exports” this country has. “We’re not a perfect nation, but we’re a good nation,” Smith said. “As long as we live up to the values of our founding documents, there is much good in the world.” For things that have a huge impact on many people, like Obamacare, both parties need to agree through compromise because things passed this way will last longer. But compromise can be very hard to achieve. It was one of the hardest things he was involved in during his time in the United States Senate.
What helped him was having a supportive family, because it was hard work, and meeting young people. “During my time as a senator, I delighted meeting with young people,” Smith said. They always asked Smith if he represented their ideas or his. Smith said he had two roles, one as a delegate and the other as a statesman.
Civil dialogue, both in-person and on-line, can be difficult to maintain, especially with those who differ politically. It is something, however, which has been addressed by our Office of Civic Engagement, in past and current events, and which can be done. Panelists at a 2015 Civic Engagement workshop, all of them politicians and familiar with heated debates on important topics, recommended these tips for those striving to create civility:
see opponents as real people
know the full story
At a 2016 workshop hosted by the same group, panelists Brian King, Democrat Representative; Sheryl Allen, former Republican Representative; Scott Howell, former Democrat Senator; and Deidre Henderson, Republican Senator, spoke on a similar topic: Finding Common Ground with Those Who Differ Politically.
What is Civility?
Each of the panelists offered a different definition:
Senator Henderson: “Never impune another person’s motivations.”
Former Senator Howell: “Do more listening than talking.”
Former Representative Allen: “Make the effort to understand the other side. Civil discourse begins with each and every one of us.”
Representative King: “Separate political from personal.”
How can You be Civil?
Representative King spoke about the importance of reaching out. He said, “Disarm people who might be suspicious of you. Get personal but in a positive way.” He added that he likes to seek out and get to know people with opposing political views; he talks to them about things other than politics. The Democrat also talked about remaining civil even when one’s constituents don’t want you to be. He said that politicians “greatest supporters” often want them to be “their weapon, their tool, their instrument” and not necessarily get along with others. He cautioned politicians to resist that.
Former Senator Howell said, quoting the Dalai Lama: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
In the Utah State Senate, said Senator Henderson, there are 24 Republicans and 5 Democrats. “I esteem [all of] them and value their input. No bill passed solely on a partisan vote. No one party has all the answers. Hence, it’s important to listen to other people’s ideas.”
Former President of the United States Barack Obama once said, “We have to remember that we’re actually all on one team…We’re not Democrats first, we’re not Republicans first, we are Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country.”
How do YOU find common ground with people you differ with?
During the 2016 presidential campaign, it was nearly impossible to avoid hearing about the Trump and Clinton campaigns on social media. This, however, should come as no surprise, said Jennifer Stromer-Galley, a Syracuse University School of Information Studies professor who came to BYU recently to speak on this topic. Her presentation, sponsored by our Office of Civic Engagement, touched on the history of the internet in presidential campaigns as well as its implications, potential, and impact.
Stromer-Galley is part of a team of researchers who studied the 2016 election through the candidates’ social media use. Their research, titled Illuminating 2016, focuses on analysis of messages posted by Trump and Clinton to Facebook and Twitter during the campaign. After gathering the tweets and posts, Stromer-Galley and her team organized the messages into categories that included the following kinds of material:
Call to Action
Conversational (Twitter only)
Image- character, personality, ect
Not in English
The researchers found that Twitter was used more for attacking and Facebook was primarily geared towards advocating. Furthermore, Clinton was the most active overall on each of the sites with a total of 8,714 messages. Trump only tweeted or posted 6,134 times. The graphic below shows that Clinton shared more attack-type posts and calls to action while Trump was more active in voicing information and conversational pieces.
“Overall,” said Stromer-Galley, “Clinton attacked at nearly twice the rate of Trump during the primaries and general election.” In the news media, he was portrayed as loud, rude, and thoughtless. But in reality, his opponent attacked more. Furthermore, the ways that they attacked were different. Trump was blunt and insulting whereas Clinton was more subtle with her jibes.
“We think Trump is the Twitter king,” she pointed out, “but Clinton more heavily using it in last months of general election.” From this, we can clearly see that the 2016 election was not as black and white as people made it out to be. This raises the question: How did social media influence did the election? Did the amount of messages play a role in the outcome? How will candidates use social media in the next election?
Did social media influence the way you voted?
Tables courtesy of Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Illuminating 2016.
Former President of the United States George H. W. Bush once said, “If you have a plan, we want to hear it. Tell your community leaders, your local officials, your governor, and your team in Washington. Believe me, your ideas count. An individual can make a difference.” Nobody understands this better than BYU’s Office of Civic Engagement.
On March 21, in the Garden Court in the WILK, they are hosting an event that will begin with a welcome at 9:15am and a presentation from 9:30-10:30 from former U.S. Senator Gordon Smith. Beginning at 1:30pm and lasting until 5:45, there will be three panel sessions: Find Common Ground with Those Who Differ Politically, How to Become Involved in an International NGO, and How to Help Refugees. According to Civic Engagement, these topics should “help students understand ways they can be involved as well as how to work with others, particularly those with whom they disagree.”
Civic Engagement assistant to the director Kelsey Cogswell said this about the purpose of the workshop: it is “to help students learn more about how they can be change agents in their community. [We] hope that students will leave the event with a greater understanding of how they can be involved in constructive ways in creating a better community and society around them.”
Gordon Smith will provide: “Tips for Pursuing a Life in Public Service.” He served for two terms in the U.S. Senate as a senator from Oregon. Currently, Smith is the president and CEO of NAB Education Fund.
The first panel, Finding Common Ground with Those Who Differ Politically, begins at 1:30 and will go until 2:45. The speakers are:
Brian King – Utah House Minority Leader
Sheryl Allen – former Utah State Representative
Scott Howell – former Utah Senate Minority Leader
Curt Bramble – Utah State Senator
The second panel, How to Become Involved in an International NGO, will go from 3-4:15. The presenters are:
Pearl Wright – Choice Humanitarian leader
Arturo Fuentes – Help International
Jani Dix – Operation Underground Railroad
Kim Wolf – The Hope Alliance
The third panel, How to Help Refugees, will be from 4:30-5:45. The speakers are:
Asha Parekh – Utah Refugee Center
Paul Moody – LDS Humanitarian Services
Bradford Drake – Catholic Relief Services
Natalie El-Deiry – International Rescue Committee
If you’re interested in volunteer work, serving politically, or anything in between, then this is the event for you. The Office of Civic Engagement, Gordon Smith, and the panelists are sure to inspire us to reach our full civic potential.
The Confederate flag is often associated with racism in the United States, as it is a symbol of a war to uphold slavery and, later, a battle to oppose civil rights advances. Today, BYU professors and students will discuss the flag’s history and meanings. BYU professors Matthew Mason, Ryan Gabriel, with Rebecca de Schweinitz as moderator, and several students will make up the panel.
“The nature of this event is to explore what the CSA flag has meant historically, and what it means today, to different groups of people,” said Matthew Mason, BYU associate professor of history. Professor Ryan Gabriel from the psychology department will talk more about contemporary controversies than the flag’s meaning. Students will offer their own perspectives. Some Southerners claim the flag is historic and represents Southern culture.
Historically, the Southern states used three different styles of Confederate flags. None of those flags is today’s Confederate flag.
Want to get involved and give service, but don’t know how? Never fear–Brigham Young University’s Office of Civic Engagement is coming to the rescue once again! On Thursday, January 19th, the President and CEO of Zions Bank, Scott Anderson, will speak to an audience of BYU students on the subject.
BYU’s unofficial motto, “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve,” emphasizes the role that service should play in the life of a BYU student or alum. As such, the school provides a myriad of opportunities for its student body to get involved and give back to the community–perhaps the most prominent of which is the Center for Service and Learning, or “Y-Serve.”
Y-Serve’s mission is “to provide every student with a meaningful service opportunity…to instill in the heart and mind a desire to give lifelong service.” They’ve succeeded tremendously in this regard–in 2015, Y-Serve helped 29,386 BYU students give 102,560 hours of service to others.
So…why serve? One student involved in Y-Serve wrote, “By seeking the happiness of others, we find our own.” Another student, Patrick, added, “service helps with my overall happiness. I am honestly convinced that a smile is contagious. Helping somebody else smile through hardship and seeing them happy will always make me smile too.”
Often, we as college students can feel overwhelmed and barely have enough time for our own happiness–but as these remarks from fellow students can attest, one of the best ways to take care of ourselves is by taking care of others. And as Anderson’s lecture will teach, these results compound as more and more people serve.
Anderson’s lecture, entitled “It Takes All of Us,” will take place at 11 a.m. in 3224 WSC. Anderson himself serves his community in many different ways besides his work at Zions Bank. He chairs the board of directors of Intermountain Healthcare, is vice-president of the Days of ’47 Rodeo Board, and is a director of Driven2Teach, a nonprofit organization helping better teaching and learning of history. He also serves on several boards on nonprofit organizations including the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, Envision Utah, and the Pete Suazo Center.
Anderson has a degree in philosophy and economics from Columbia University, as well as a Masters in economics and international studies from Johns Hopkins.
In his poem, If, Rudyard Kipling writes: “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch…” These words perfectly describe Pamela Atkinson. Ms. Atkinson is known for her charitable work with the low income families and homeless in Utah. On Thursday, November 10, she will be coming to BYU to talk to us about how we too can help the underprivileged.
The event will be held in the WILK in room 3224 at 11am. Rachel Osterloh of the Office of Civic Engagement says: “Pamela Atkinson’s lecture is intended to encourage involvement with organizations that assist homeless individuals and families, refugees and low-income people in our communities. We hope that BYU students and faculty that attend will be able to gain a better understanding of how they can volunteer in a variety of settings and make a difference in their respective communities.”
Who is Pamela Atkinson?
This is Ms. Atkinson’s specialty. When she was younger, she volunteered at a Salvation Army dining room. She remembers fondly the major telling her to greet and shake each person’s hand; this provided them with physical contact, which was something homeless people often lack. From this experience, she was hooked: “I’m addicted to volunteering.”
This addiction has led Ms. Atkinson to work with various governments to help the homeless. It is this involvement that prompted the Government to name their homeless fund after her: Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund. Forbes contributor Devin Thorpe cites these lessons as the kinds she teaches:
Remember that ego has no role in service
Don’t ‘be afraid to speak out’
Never let issues interfere with relationships
Small things make a difference
everyone can do something
There is power to a touch or a smile
‘I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.’
If she can do it, so can I
Avoid Emotional Bankruptcy
It’s so easy to think that college students can’t do anything to help others, that we simply don’t have enough to give. But, even if all that can be given is like a widow’s mite, it’s still a mite.
“Many people are dreading this year’s election,” says Dr. Richard Davis, director of BYU’s Office of Civic Engagement. “Even though this presidential election has more high profile candidates than any election in the last century, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the choices.” The ability to vote can perhaps feel more like a burden than a privilege, but there are many benefits of voting, both to the country as a whole, local government, and the voters themselves. In fact, voting is associated with better social connections, health outcomes, and lower unemployment, according to Nonprofitvote.org.
If you want to be involved, but worry that you don’t have the time, knowledge, or resources to make a difference, know that you don’t have to fix all the problems, but your help is needed to improve in your sphere of influence. Next week, Provo’s mayor, police chief, and economics director will come to campus to hold a panel on how Provo residents—students and otherwise—can get involved. The discussion is hosted by the Office of Civic Engagement, an FHSS entity.
Mayor John Curtis is known as a problem-solver. He has been in office since 2010. He started a blog, the Provo Insider, which he manages as a way to stay connected to the residents. Mayor Curtis also serves on a number of advisory and community boards. He says, “Our residents are what make Provo great, not our government.”
Police Chief John King started leading the force in 2013. He is dedicated to protecting the community and doing it in a respectful, honest, and excellent way.
Economic Director Scott Bowlesrecently said of BYU students: “These people get it. They are learning that in the university’s motto of ‘The World is Our Campus,’ Provo is included in that world.”
“BYU [does have] a unique capability to help students incorporate public service into their lives,” says the mission of the Civic Engagement Office. “BYU’s motto is ‘Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.’ The university educates tens of thousands of students who then go out into the world. These alumni, if motivated and adequately trained, can be effective forces in providing leadership in helping better their individual communities, states, and nations.”
Bring your questions to this panel. The discussion will also be an opportunity for you to ask them.