Students needed for new MVSU Rural Policy Student Advocacy Group

March 3, 2020

ITTA BENA, Miss.— Mississippi Valley State University students interested in participating in a student-centered advocacy group now have the unique opportunity to join a worthwhile project.

Dr. Cassandra Hawkins, coordinator of the Master of Arts in Rural Policy and Planning and an Assistant Professor of Rural Public Policy and Planning in the Department of Social Sciences, is currently recruiting students to participate in the MVSU Rural Policy Student Advocacy Group.

The group is limited to MVSU students who are either an undergraduate student in the Department of Social Sciences or a graduate student in the Rural Public Policy and Planning Graduate Program at MVSU. The students will engage both community leaders and policymakers in discussions about the broad societal benefits and local impact of scientific research.

According to Hawkins, the group is the first student advocacy group of its kind in the MVSU community.

“In this group, students promote citizen-centered democracy to address challenges in the Mississippi Delta. Students explore civic engagement while adequately building relationships within the committed communities,” Hawkins explained.

“Through the implementation of the Deliberative Community Forum, students gain first-hand experience about deliberative democracy and engage in a structured discussion about a rural policy challenge in a non-confrontational environment with policymakers, community members, and other relevant stakeholders.”

The MVSU Rural Policy Student Advocacy Group prepares students to create sustainable change in their respective communities through the engagement of deliberative democracy.

It also promotes civic engagement beyond their matriculation at MVSU, Hawkins said.

The project is funded by a grant awarded to Hawkins and MVSU from Research!America and the Rita Allen Foundation.

Research!America and the Rita Allen Foundation announced the recipients of microgrant awards of $1,000 to $3,000, which is provided to 15 graduate students and post-doc led science policy groups for a range of civic engagement activities in their local areas.

 “Research!America leads the way in connecting scientists, communities, and policymakers. We are pleased to advance this innovative effort to spark young scientists’ civic engagement and draw on insights from the social sciences,” said Elizabeth Good Christopherson, president and chief executive officer of the Rita Allen Foundation, in a prepared statement.

“With rapid advances in the life sciences and science and technology broadly, the relationships and conversations these groups will build will help inform decisions of great importance to society — and advance a much-needed culture of civic science for the benefit of our communities.”

Student science policy groups from the following academic institutions have been selected for Research! America microgrants: Mississippi Valley State University, Colorado State University, Duquesne University, Johns Hopkins University, Kansas University, Michigan State University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at San Francisco, University of Chicago, University of Florida at Gainesville, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, University of Missouri, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Virginia Tech.

To learn more and/or apply to become a member of the MVSU Rural Policy Student Advocacy Group, click HERE.