Galvanizing Civic Engagement – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Galvanizing Civic Engagement

Senior Lou Guard creates public policy journal

While shoveling asphalt and waving safety flags at construction sites during the summer between his sophomore and junior years, Lou Guard ’07 had plenty of time to think. The public policy and history double major contemplated many issues of the day that were being tackled in all kinds of forums at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Some students were writing policy briefs and research papers on everything from foreign policy, health care, welfare and environmental policy. Others were engaged with alums in internships, working with not-for-profit agencies and in legislative offices. Equally impressive was the strong student support he had witnessed for the public service group HWS Votes, which works to increase voter participation on and off campus, and with members of the political clubs who had debated issues and candidates. In addition he was continuously exposed to the wisdom and input of Congressional leaders, journalists and other influential decision-makers who came to campus through the President’s Forum Series.

Guard wanted to devise a way to bring all this activity together into a cohesive whole. His brainchild was unveiled on Monday, Feb. 12, when the first edition of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Public Affairs Journal was released.

Guard said the Journal provides a unique forum for students of all disciplines to present their research and analysis. The maiden release presents scholarly works by seven undergraduate students from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, featuring topics such as the war on drugs, disaster relief policy and abortion.

“The Public Affairs Journal represents the best of Hobart and William Smith—engaged students productively working together to foster lively discourse and thereby enhance the civic engagement on our campus and beyond, said HWS President Mark Gearan. “At a time when far too many citizens are not engaged in public issues, The Hobart and William Smith Colleges Public Affairs Journal is an antidote for this prevailing cynicism. The editors and contributing student scholars have embraced the charge the founding students set for themselves: ignite interest in issues, challenge assumptions, and shape a meaningful discourse.

Guard has called Gearan and Professor Craig Rimmerman the linchpins in his project. After days of mulling over ideas on the highway crew, he hiked up the steps of Coxe Hall for an appointment with President Gearan, who wholeheartedly encouraged him to take the next step, helped him secure funding and put him in touch with public affairs leaders. Then Guard spent a semester in Washington, D.C., with Rimmerman working through his ideas and plans.

An editorial board of six students and 10 faculty advisers brought the publication to fruition. This type of involvement is typical for graduate students, but this journal’s contributions are all the work of current Hobart and William Smith students’ independent studies or Honors projects performed with faculty.

Contributing scholar Cristina Bain ’08, who plans to work at a non-government organization in Vietnam after graduation, submitted her examination of the Disaster Relief Policy of the American Red Cross. “I feel honored to be included because I know the quality of work the other students submitted. That my work on the Red Cross’ dichotomy between national regulations and local ramifications was selected to be published with Honors papers and capstone pieces is truly a compliment.

Guard said the Journal will be an ongoing opportunity for professional exchange, collegial interaction and cooperative academic effort. Plans call for annual publication of future editions, each fall.

Early reviews of the Journal have been overwhelmingly positive. Former Governor of New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen, the director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, has written a forward for the Journal, as has Gearan. Sheehan has deemed the work an inspiration that adds visibility to the importance of civic engagement and political involvement.

Professor Rimmerman believes The Public Affairs Journal represents the very best of what students, working together and with other members of our community, can accomplish at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “I am most impressed that Lou Guard had an excellent idea and inspired other students, not to mention faculty, President Gearan, and alums, to work together to bring this idea to fruition. This is an important publication because it also reflects the best of our interdisciplinary public policy program at the Colleges—serious students writing about important policy issues and challenges in rigorous, thoughtful, and insightful ways. It is a model for us all.

Publication of the Journal has been made possible by the generous contribution of Horace Havemeyer ’64. Copies of the Journal will be available at the library and bookstore beginning Monday, Feb. 19.