Congress to Campus Will Bring Influential Decision Makers to Rhode Island College

Congress to Campus, an initiative of Rhode Island College’s American Democracy Project will bring five members of congress, trailblazing women and influential decision makers to the college to promote civic literacy and participation among college students.

“Congress to Campus helps students to put citizenship into perspective,” said Kay Israel, associate professor of communications and associate director of the American Democracy Project. “It will offer the opportunity to explore that rare, in-their-shoes view as we take a look from the inside.”

Former U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) and former U.S. Rep. David Minge (D-MN) will be in residence at RIC for two days, Oct. 15-16 to participate in a series of events to engage students to become more active in the democratic process.

Bill Rappleye, a political reporter for NBC 10, will moderate a forum titled “Congress, Bipartisanship and Governing Across the Divide” that will include U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, U.S. Rep. James Langevin, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Buerkle, Minge and Garrison Nelson, a professor of political science at the University of Vermont.

Other forums will focus on journalism and civic life, committing to civic and political engagement past college graduation, women in politics, and preparing for a career in public service.

Participants on these panels will include local media as well as local and state dignitaries including Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, State Rep. Teresa Tanzi, and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung.

“Seldom before has the college assembled so many decision makers in the same room,” said Valerie Endress, associate professor of communications and director of the American Democracy Project. “There will be some of the state’s most influential gatekeepers in the media industry and several of Rhode Island’s most prominent public servants.”

The two-day event will include a welcome from Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriuolo and a keynote address from Garrison Nelson.

Nelson’s scholarship at the University of Vermont focuses on American government, political leadership and political parties. He has authored more than 150 articles and professional papers on national politics with a focus on the United States Congress and elections in Vermont.

Rhode Island College students will have several opportunities to interact with Buerkle and Minge during a student luncheon on Oct. 16 and during class visits.

Buerkle recently was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission. She also has served as assistant attorney general for New York.

Minge is a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. and a fellow at the W.W. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Program. He formerly was a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

“Congress to Campus is the perfect opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a range of topics relevant to their futures,” said Julia Palmieri, a RIC communications major and Congress to Campus planner. “The panels will help guide students, especially those who seek careers in civics and public service.”

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