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ICSR celebrates its grand opening

Co-director Paul Markham discussed the mission of the Institute for Citizenship & Social Responsibility during the grand opening on March 25. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

WKU celebrated the opening of its new Institute for Citizenship & Social Responsibility on Thursday morning (March 25).

Renovated space in the Garrett Conference Center will serve as the home for a program dedicated to engaging and challenging students to be agents of change in their communities.

The ICSR encourages students to think critically, serve generously and act responsibly.

“We help students understand how they can make a positive difference in the world,” said Paul Markham, one of three co-directors of the ICSR. The other co-directors are Dr. Saundra Ardrey, head of the Department of Political Science, and Dr. Eric Bain-Selbo, head of the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

By working with the WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships as well as with faculty, staff and community members, WKU students are developing a sense of civic agency and learning how to work together to solve problems, Markham said.

President Gary Ransdell said the ICSR is helping WKU achieve its vision of becoming a leading American university with international reach by engaging students in global, regional and local issues.

“We have chosen to involve students at the core of regional stewardship,” Dr. Ransdell said. “We can’t achieve an international reach unless we start right here at home.”

Provost Barbara Burch called the ICSR a national model that other universities will look toward to help their own students develop civic engagement skills.

“We are serious about this social responsibility thing,” Dr. Burch said.

As the mother of a WKU student, Valeria Cummings Swope, director of communications for Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo’s office, said she saw the commitment to civic engagement first-hand when her daughter was among a group that attended President Obama’s inauguration. WKU and the ICSR “offer students the opportunity to reach out and make a difference,” Swope said.

Wendell Cave, 2nd Congressional District director for the Department of Local Government, represented Gov. Steve Beshear at the ceremony and presented Dr. Ransdell with a letter from the governor congratulating WKU on opening the ICSR.

The ICSR is housed in the Garrett Conference Center. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

Representatives of state and local government, state and local education agencies, community organizations and WKU academic programs attended Thursday’s ceremony.

Open house for students: On Tuesday (March 30), the ICSR is inviting WKU students to an open house from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Garrett Conference Center, room 109. Students will have the opportunity to tour the ICSR’s new home and learn more about what the Institute has to offer.

The ICSR is open to all students, faculty and staff who are interested in developing community organizing, citizenship, and civic engagement in the WKU community.  The Institute also offers classes every semester related to civic agency.

Contact: Terry Shoemaker, (270) 745-3217.

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