FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    Date: October 4, 2002

         Contact: Donna McCracken, 206-6716


UIS students take part in civic engagement training


SPRINGFIELD -- Two University of Illinois at Springfield students, Joye Williams and Gillian Nichols-Smith, took part in Student Civic Engagement Dialogue Training held September 21 and 22 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Hosted by the Midwest Collaborative of Campus Compact, National Service Learning Organization, the program brings groups of students together to discuss important issues and develop skills they can use on their home campuses to plan and implement student focused dialogues on civic engagement.

Karin Cotterman, UIS program coordinator for student volunteers and service-learning, noted, “The students worked very hard. They focused on expressing their ideals and were very passionate about their beliefs, while at the same time they worked to listen to ideas that they may not have agreed with.”

“I was impressed by how these dialogues allowed for compassion and empathic listening,” said Nichols-Smith, who is a sophomore majoring in Biology.

She and Williams, a junior in the Legal Studies department, joined students from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois in exercises and training designed to help them become facilitators for deliberative democratic dialogues. Williams noted that “civic engagement is a pretty broad term. There are a lot of aspects we can discuss.”

The Campus Compact National Student Civic Engagement Dialogue Campaign begins this fall and runs for two years. Ten dialogues are scheduled in Illinois during that time. UIS



plans to host smaller, campus dialogues leading up to a UIS-sponsored statewide dialogue in February. In the first campus dialogue -- set for Tuesday, October 8 -- students will offer suggestions for the focus of the statewide dialogue.

Cotterman said that students in the training program “tried to understand multiple perspectives and take people where they are coming from. I saw a lot of students learning and a lot of students teaching each other. I am very excited about the upcoming UIS dialogues. I think UIS can be proud to be a part of this national campaign.”

            Cotterman also participated in workshops with fellow directors from throughout the Midwest and was one of three chosen as Community Service Director Fellows. Each Fellow received a $2,000 grant to support a community service-related project that they initiate on their own campus.

Cotterman’s fellowship will help support the establishment and development of an Office for Student Volunteers and Service-Learning at UIS.