Many classes and lectures have moved to a virtual learning space as part of our societal effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus. And you have the power to bring democracy into your online classroom!
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 online lectures or classroom!
What students can do
Reach out to your professor or teaching assistant 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 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 of family member, 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.
- It’s important that we connect the issues we talk about in class with their real-world impacts–and that includes how we contribute to tackling society’s problems. Registering to vote is a simple step to make sure that my fellow students and I are prepared to participate in our democracy. 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
Get started with this faculty guide to student voting in your classroom for resources and information on voter registration, education, and voter turnout.
Faculty are the most direct and consistent pathway to students for election information. Especially now that many campuses have transitioned to virtual classes, faculty play an even more important role in making sure students have the tools they need to engage in our democracy. There are many ways professors, teachers, TAs, faculty, and staff can support student civic engagement depending on their time and availability.
Have a few minutes?
Educators can dedicate five minutes at the beginning of class to highlight the importance of voting and registering to vote. 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.
Professors and teachers can also download these Science Rising Powerpoint slides to use at the beginning or end of the day’s presentation.
Have more time?
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.