March 9, 2012
In recent times, political scientists and social commentators have cautioned that the U.S. has become a “nation of spectators”—a nation of people disengaged from their governments, communities and each other. Street Law programs envision and promote an active and activist form of civic learning for everyone. Specifically, Street Law’s Community College Program provides a fresh, new, and comprehensive framework for students to become more active and informed participants in their communities—by teaching a practical, interactive civics curriculum that includes student-designed community service projects.
Professor Patrick J. O'Guinn, Sr. is currently piloting the Street Law course at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. His course emphasizes the importance of challenging students to identify and propose solutions for everyday problems that they, their families, or communities may face.
This semester, Professor O’Guinn’s Street Law students worked together to address the low number of registered voters on their campus by implementing a voter registration campaign. The County Board of Elections trained and approved the students to conduct the registration drive. Throughout the three-day project, approximately 33 first-time and unregistered voters were registered. The project brought Street Law students together to successfully work as a team, taught them about the voting process, and gave them an opportunity to apply knowledge learned in the classroom directly to their campus community. Professor O’Guinn witnessed the pride and excitement of the students who registered to vote for the first time. He believes this project “epitomizes student civic engagement that most likely would not have occurred if not for their participation in a community college Street Law course.”
(Reproduced with permission)