If you’re a student, you basically live in the lecture hall and lab, right? Your professors and teaching assistants are probably spending just as much time there with you, if not more.
By recruiting your professor, teacher, or teaching assistant (TA) to talk about ways to engage in our democracy, you can help inspire, educate, and engage more students while simultaneously helping foster an environment where discussing civic engagement is the cultural norm. A win-win!
If you’re a teacher, educator, or faculty member, you can take the lead yourself and bring some of these ideas into your lectures or classroom!
What to ask your professor or teacher
Talk to your professor or teaching assistant after class or during office hours about the Science Rising Challenge and the importance of participating in our democratic process. There are many ways they can help.
It helps if you create a good elevator pitch to explain why you’re asking your TA or professor to take action, and why it matters to you and your campus community. Practice with a friend, and don’t give up! If you don’t normally talk about civic engagement in class, here are some talking points to work with or use as inspiration:
Hi, [professor /TA name]. I had a quick question about the class curriculum.
- Since 2020 is such an important year for protecting public health, the environment, science-based policy, and so many other important issues, would you be willing to dedicate some class time to help get students prepared and ready for the election?
- I think a lot of students would benefit from even the mention of voting and why it’s so important. Studies have shown that a classroom presentation from a professor or student about voter registration can increase registration and turnout.
- I can help provide resources to fit the amount of time you are willing to dedicate, which could be as little as 5 minutes.
- (If they are excited to support) We have also seen that when professors provide an enthusiastic introduction, students are more likely to register to vote. Would you be able to introduce me/our volunteers?
Remember that professors, teachers, and TAs face a lot of constraints when it comes to time and resources, so making it as easy as possible for them to share information about civic engagement will make it more likely that they’ll say yes.
What educators can do
There are many ways professors, teachers, TAs, faculty, and staff can support student civic engagement depending on their time and availability. If they have:
Educators can dedicate five minutes at the beginning of class to highlight the importance of voting and registering to vote. They can make a short presentation themselves or you can ask to do so.
Remember to point students to information on where and how they can register to vote. If key voting or voter registration deadlines are coming up, let them know. If you’re speaking, request that your professor gives an enthusiastic introduction — we’ve seen that it boosts the likelihood that students will register to vote. (Bonus points: Have students register online during class. You could check if there are nonprofits or campus organizations that could give a “class rap”— a type of voter registration drive where organizations come into classrooms and register students to vote.)
Professors and teachers can also post a Science Rising Challenge flyer in their classroom or on their office door (Bonus points: bring a printed copy to share), or include a Powerpoint slide at the beginning or end of the day’s presentation.
Professors and faculty can include important election dates — such as the voter registration deadlines, early voting information, and Election Day information — in the class syllabus or other class materials.
They can print, distribute, and point students to nonpartisan candidate and issue guides to provide accurate state-specific information and inform students on the issues that affect them.
Your professor or TA could dedicate time and space to talk about nonpartisan civic engagement during class. Voting modules can help prepare and facilitate an in-class discussion on a topic that bridges the course with civic dialogue.
They can coordinate with other departments and offices on campus to organize a voter registration drive.
Additional resources for educators
- Faculty Resource: Incorporating Election Engagement into Your Courses
- Faculty Resource: How to Talk About Election In Your Classrooms
- How to help college students become regular voters
- Periclean Faculty Leadership Program
Did you complete this activity?
Well done! Have you also completed the two required activities for the Science Rising Challenge — registering to vote and having a plan to vote? Then congratulations! YOU have completed the Science Rising Challenge!
Share your achievement with your friends and let us know you’ve completed the challenge. We’ll send you a cool button to recognize your accomplishment and your participation in our democracy!