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Engaging Students and the Community in Civic Participation

By Daniel Wallace     
Oct. 1, 2019 

The Honors College has a long history of civic engagement and service in the city of Houston, and this fall, students, faculty, staff, and their families are invited to share in its ongoing commitment to the community. 

“While the lack of participation in the 18-25-year-old demographic is a problem that political scientists and universities have been trying to grapple with for years, the Honors College excels at engaging students in the community,” said Professor Belco, a lecturer in the Honors College.

And so, to that end, we are excited to offer students these opportunities. The Civic Engagement program is sponsored by UH Advanced Community Engagement Services. The first is Civic Participation, where UH students participate in a letter writing campaign to share our educated views on specific issues, and a Get Out the Vote Campaign, where we help students register to vote.” 

On Oct. 3, the Harris County Voter Registration Clerk will be holding a training session in the Honors Commons, where new registrars will be deputized to participate in future elections. On Oct. 10 and Nov. 5, the Honors College will host a Get Out the Vote/Letter Writing Campaign. Irene Guenther, a History professor in the Honors College, initiated the UH Letter Writing Campaign in 2016, and this fall’s program is building on her initiative.

Research shows that millennials and the Z generation feel more connected to American politics and government through engagement rather than duty, and—in the letter writing campaign—students will be given the chance to engage in the most personal way: to share their well-researched views with elected officials.

Citizenship Learning is a program where we help UH students, faculty, staff, and their families become United States citizens. The Honors College—in partnership with the UH Immigration Law Clinic—will hold a citizenship information session on Nov. 7 in the Honors College Commons, where attorneys will be available to answer questions about citizenship and the naturalization process. 

In Feb. and April 2020, there will be two free, four-week courses to help students, faculty, staff, and their families prepare to take the citizenship exam. 

“It was a great experience to participate in the UH community and help fellow cougars,” writes Mary Henriquez, an Honors student involved with creating study materials for the citizenship classes.

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