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Lander Awarded S.C. Humanities Grant for Year-long Civic Engagement Initiative

Lander University's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences has received a grant from S.C. Humanities to host a series of events that will bring together scholars, journalists, civic leaders, students and citizens into an extended conversation aimed at cultivating an informed citizenry.

Entitled "Achieving the Promise: Democracy and the Informed Citizen," the grant provides a distinct set of opportunities and experiences for its campus community and the citizens within the Lakelands region. "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" is a national initiative, spearheaded by the Federation of State Humanities Councils, of which S.C. Humanities is a member. The grant was co-authored Dr. Ashley Woodiwiss, Chair of Lander's Department of Government, Criminology, and Sociology; and Dr. Lucas McMillan, Dean of Lander's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

The university has already hosted precursor events, including a voter registration campaign where nearly 100 students registered to vote. "Achieving the Promise" officially begins on Nov. 1 with the university's political candidate forum. The series continues with a panel on civic engagement on Nov. 7, and a lecture on Nov. 13 by Lander professor Dr. Kimberly Richburg on "Briggs v. Elliott," the S.C. case that later inspired "Brown v. Board of Education."

The grant's four goals are to empower informed citizens and model good political dialogue; teach about civic engagement in a pluralist democracy; analyze the role of the media; and strengthen relations between Lander University and the surrounding community. To emphasize the importance of a free press for cultivating informed and engaged citizens, the grant is a partnership between Lander and the Index-Journal, a locally-owned community newspaper. The grant seeks to strengthen the network of relationships between Lander and key civic groups, leaders, and citizens, thereby connecting to the idea of "new localism" discussed by scholars Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak. The pair point out that civic renewal is more likely to occur when a network of local leaders within government, business, non-profits and neighborhood associations work together on shared projects and concerns.

"Lander recognizes with gratitude the generous support of S.C. Humanities that will help fund 'Achieving the Promise,'" said Dr. Woodiwiss, the grant's Project Director. "With a variety of public events that run from November to March 2019, Lander will provide the university and greater community a range of opportunities to engage with fellow citizens in learning and working together."

"This grant will teach and inspire us all as life-long learners, and the linkages with the Index-Journal and the City of Greenwood reflect upon the college's goal to enhance community partnerships," Dr. McMillan added.

For more information on "Achieving the Promise," visit or call 864-388-8733.

S.C. Humanities

The mission of South Carolina Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. This not-for-profit organization presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that reach more than 250,000 citizens annually. South Carolina Humanities receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as corporate, foundation and individual donors. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state.