Constitution Day to promote civic engagement


constitutionWe the people of NAU will get a chance to become better acquainted with our country’s foundation during Constitution Day, Tuesday, Sept. 17.

A series of events is planned throughout the day at Ashurst Hall to demonstrate the importance of listening, engagement and action for democracy.

The day’s agenda includes a panel discussion from 9:35 to 10:50 a.m., featuring politics and international affairs professor Glenn Phelps; Alberto Olivas from the Center for Civic Participation, Maricopa Community College District; Rom Coles, director, of Community, Culture and Environment; and Heidi Wayment, chair of psychology and coordinator of the SBS Compassion Project. Lori Poloni-Staudinger, associate professor of politics and international affairs and statewide coordinator for Arizona Deliberates, will facilitate the discussion, which will have panelists consider the question, “What Does the Constitution Ask of You?”

The NAU Forensics Team will hold a debate from 11:10 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. that addresses access to higher education.

A keynote address begins at 12:45 p.m., with J. Cherie Strachan, director of the Women and Gender Studies Program at Central Michigan University, who will present “Why Teaching the Constitution Isn’t Enough: Civic Identity and Youth Political Participation.” Strachan is the author of High-Tech Grassroots: The Professionalization of Local Elections, and her research focuses on facilitating student-led deliberative discussion sessions and on enhancing campus civil society.

From 5 to 6:30 p.m., Andrea Houchard, director of NAU Philosophy in the Public Interest, will tackle the question of whether states should impose a minimum living wage during a Hot Topics Café, facilitated by John Devlin, lecturer for The W.A. Franke College of Business.

Constitution Day is part of September’s Civic Engagement Month, which includes the National Day of Remembrance and Service on Wednesday, Sept. 11. Participants are invited to honor the lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks with the placement of American flags on the front lawn of Flagstaff City Hall, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Also part of Civic Engagement Month is a special talk on Sunday, Sept. 15, by Peter Sagal, host of the popular NPR program “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” Sagal also is the host of “Constitution USA,” a four-hour PBS series during which he travels cross-country on a customized red, white and blue Harley-Davidson to find out where the Constitution lives, how it works and how it unites us as a nation. The talk is free, but advance tickets are required.

Information about Constitution Day is online.