10:03 AM

UHD Community to Discuss Civic Engagement During 'We The People' Event

The presidential candidates are through debating, but that doesn't mean the important conversations regarding our country and communities have concluded.

On Oct. 26, Houstonians will join the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) community for frank discussions on civic engagement. UHD's Center for Public Deliberation will host "We the People: Our Role in American Politics" from 9:30-11:45 a.m. in UHD's Welcome Center, Milam Travis Room (200 Girard St.).

A variety of voices will gather for moderated table talks focused on the importance of being engaged citizens. Discussions will be moderated by students and alumni from UHD's Center for Public Deliberation. These talks will not be debates on candidates, policies or platforms but rather constructive conversations on collaboration across party lines and community engagement.

Participants are encouraged to read and/or bring along the "We the People" issue guide to the event and can register here.

"In our democracy, we need spaces where people can come together to work across our differences, think through tough choices and struggle with real trade-offs," said Windy Lawrence, director of UHD's Center for Public Deliberation and associate professor of communication studies. "We also need places where we can connect with others, so that we can build connections and community. UHD is the perfect place to do that."

"We the People" will serve as a warm-up event for UHD's annual Walk 2 Vote, a procession from campus to cast ballots at the Harris County Tax Office. This event at noon at the Shea Street Building. Coordinated by UHD students, this stroll to the polls will feature a number of dignitaries including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and hip hop artists Bun B. and Trae Tha Truth. These events are partnering to encourage Houstonians to exercise their right to vote and further engage them in the political process.

"Walk 2 Vote and 'We the People' both celebrate what we do here at UHD 365 days a year," she said. "Each day at this institution, we're intentional about politics and create opportunities to work across barriers and solve problems in our communities. That's what it means to be civically engaged and have opportunities for democratic learning."

The event, said Lawrence, is aimed at generating ideas and will hopefully inspire students and citizens to join Walk 2 Vote's jaunt down Main Street. It also is an opportunity for high school or UHD participants to gain experience in skills that will benefit them long after graduation.

"The ability to listen, synthesize ideas, work through tensions with others, and honor differences in a way that's productive are skills that many students are not exposed to," Lawrence said. "These are 21st century leadership skills that are critical for students, and they can practice them at this forum."