The Town of Chestertown, in a groundbreaking collaboration with Washington College, is proud to announce the launch of the Democratic Revitalization Research Initiative. This project, led by 10 political science majors from Washington College, aims to explore and catalog successful strategies used by towns and municipalities across America to enhance democratic participation.
Councilmember Tom Herz of Chestertown expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “It has never been more important get more people interested in participating in their local, municipal government. Understanding how to accomplish that is the first step.” He further added, “I’m proud to work with Washington College to bring the brain power of their highly engaged students to the table to help answer the question of how we increase civic engagement. I can’t wait to see what their research brings forth.”
The upcoming research will focus on key areas of the deepening participation in the democratic process such as increasing voter engagement in local elections, growing electoral competition, diversifying participation in civic decision-making, and mobilizing younger generations. This bipartisan study will draw insights from notable sources including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, and several university institutes dedicated to democratic engagement.
Mayor J. David Foster of Chestertown commented, “This project shows our dedication to strengthening democracy and our belief that working together with Washington College will help advance that effort.”
Dr. Pat Nugent, the Miller Director of Civic Engagement for the Washington College Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will lead the project. At the conclusion, the students will present a comprehensive policy brief outlining the most successful and innovative initiatives for revitalizing democratic participation in towns and municipalities. This research is intended to inspire and guide the Town of Chestertown in considering future models for enhancing civic engagement.
“Our students want to conduct research that will make a difference, and this is exactly the type of project that can inspire them to do their best work,” said Nugent. “In turn, I hope their findings will inspire Chestertown residents to proactively work to strengthen our local democracy, whether increasing voter engagement, growing electoral competition, diversifying opportunities for participatory decision-making, or mobilizing younger generations to get involved.”
“We are delighted that our majors will be collaborating with Dr. Nugent and the Town of Chestertown on such an important project,” says Dr. Christine Wade, the Louis L. Goldstein Chair in Public Affairs and chair of the Department of Political Science. “This type of experiential learning is invaluable to our students, and we know the town will benefit from what our students have learned at Washington College.”
The political science department at Washington College is designed to provide an understanding of the political forces, institutions, ideas, and problems of contemporary society. The curriculum prepares students for graduate studies and professional careers in law, politics, teaching, journalism, government, and international civil service. Learn more at www.washcoll.edu.