Civic engagement class presents Constitution Café

12.02.16

Foundations of Civic Engagement Course, PAD 2073, a class that is part of the new civic engagement minor, offered by the Department of Public Administration, held its first Constitution Café at the UTSA main campus, Dec. 1, 2016.  Constitution Café brought members of the community together to discuss a specific topic - the electoral college.  PAD 2073 was the first class within the College to hold a Constitution Café, modeled after Thomas Jefferson's engaging platform for promoting and building a participatory democracy.  Thomas Jefferson, an American founding father, who is the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, believed that the U.S. Constitution should be revised periodically to keep up with the changing times.  More than 50 students, educators and community leaders attended the student-led project, with Jefferson's philosophy in mind.  Attendees participated in group-like discussions on whether the electoral college should remain or the Constitution be amended to replace the current system with a direct voting system.  The event received press coverage from Univision and the Rivard Report.

“We feel like it was set up based on a system where information spread very slowly, and today that doesn’t happen,” UTSA College of Public Policy Project Coordinator Forrest Wilson said on behalf of his group Thursday. “People (today) are more able to make an informed decision.”

Many of the students of the newly established civic engagement minor class were excited to host their service-learning project for the first time.

"I've been waiting in anticipation for this event since I saw it written on the syllabus," UTSA public administration student Jamilyn Keeton said.  "The whole process has been a great experience that has really made my first semester here at UTSA truly inspiring.  This class is a wonderful addition to UTSA, and I only expect greater things in the future."

Students submitted grant proposals to the City of San Antonio Challenge Grant program.  The City of San Antonio with the help of Councilman Ron Nirenberg awarded funding to the undergraduate students' service learning project to hold a Constitution Café and discuss the U.S. Constitution and how the community can be engaged with their government.  The purpose was for participants to learn more about the U.S. Constitution and have a chance to discuss amendments they would like to propose.