ADP probes students, community on ‘Burning Issues’

The American Democracy Project is offering its second semester of “Burning Issues” films to promote student interests in important civic issues. According to chairman Joyce McCauley, the ADP is part of a larger organization – the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). McCauley said over 400 public colleges in the nation are part of the organization. This semester, the ADP teamed up with Program Council. “[It’s] a movement to create a democratic movement on campus to create civic engagement,” she said. “To get people involved in civic affairs and civic needs.”The most recent film was “Away from Her,” shown in the Walker Education Center last Saturday and in the LSC Theater on Tuesday and Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. “Away from Her” is the first movie directed by Sarah Polley, and shows the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease on an old couple. The character of Fiona, played by Julie Christie, is an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home, and the film shows her illness and how it affects her husband, Grant. “The film does a very good job of showing the whole progression and the emotional upset that goes with Alzheimer’s disease.This really does a great job of showing the effects Alzheimer’s disease, not only on the patient, but how difficult it is on the loved ones,” John Newbold, assistant professor of marketing and organizer for the film series, said. The whole idea is to try to promote a culture on campus along with PC – a culture of being more involved trying to avoid being too passive with things,” he said. There are six films total in the series – three last fall and three this spring. This semester, along with “Away from Her”, “Dirty Pretty Things”, about illegal aliens in London, will be shown in March. Maxed Out, a documentary about credit card debt, will be shown in April. The movies all feature pertinent issues that increase issue awareness among participants. After each film, the floor is opened to audience discussion on the work. “The whole point of these movies is you see them, they get you kind of worked up, and you want to talk about it,” Newbold said. McCauley said ADP “Burning Issues” film series gives students the opportunity to be engaged in civic issues and give them the platform to speak openly about them. “Our focus is to make sure that our graduates leave knowing that they possess these knowledge and skills to have a global impact on society,” she said. “So they believe they’re important members and they have a responsibility to participate as active citizens.”Newbold said the movies are selected to present issues in an easy format to digest. They are all Hollywood produced films, but not as popular as most block-busters. “The whole idea is to promote the film series and provide it to the campus and local community so that people can see types of films not shown at the local theater,” Newbold said. This is the first year for the “Burning Issues” film series. Newbold is open to suggestions for future movies, as well as involving student organizations on campus whose central focus pairs with movie’s themes and issues. Overall, the film series and the ADP aim to promote awareness and participation of social issues. “It’s really cool because we know that there’s a decline in participation in civic life – in volunteerism and advocacy and other forms of civic involvement that are really necessary for the survival of our democracy,” McCauley said.”We’re not just isolated people in criminal justice or college of education or business. There’s a bigger picture here and we all have an obligation to participate.”

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