Debating for Democracy (D4D) 2008 National Conference

On April 3 and 4, 2008, Project Pericles held the 2008 Debating for Democracy (D4D) Conference in New York City for 50 student leaders from Periclean colleges and universities. The event consisted of workshops, keynote addresses, panel discussions, and legislative hearings. The conference was sponsored by the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation and hosted by TIAA-CREF. To view the Debating for Democracy (D4D) Conference Agenda, click here.

A highlight of the two-day conference was the Legislative Hearing. In early March, 41 groups of students from 21 Periclean colleges and universities, who wanted to participate in the hearing, submitted original legislative proposals to Project Pericles addressing a variety of public policy issues. After reviewing these proposals, a committee selected six finalists.

At the conference, the six teams presented their proposals to the legislators and a large audience of students, faculty, and other interested people. The legislators who participated in the event included former U.S. Senator and current President of The New School, Bob Kerrey, and former U.S. Senators Nancy Kassebaum Baker and Harris Wofford. At the end of the event, the legislators selected the winning proposal from Berea College. The Berea team received a $4,000 award to be used to fund advocacy and education activities including lobbying trips and education workshops.

The six Periclean teams that presented their proposals at the conference were:

Allegheny College, Auctioning for a Better Future

Berea College, Coal-to-liquid and Coal-to-gas: Repeal of the Federal Funding for CTL/CTG Production

Hampshire College,The Military Selective Service Act: An Unfair Bargain for Upward Mobility

Hendrix College, Relieving Child Hunger Through Food Stamp Reform

Macalester College, A Distributed and Community-Based Electrical Grid: Building the Energy, Economy, and Democracy for Tomorrow

New England College, Establishing a Consumer Privacy Registry

In addition to the legislative event, the D4D conference had workshops on civic engagement and social entrepreneurship led by some of the top leaders in these fields and a day long forum entitled Our Democracy After 2008: A D4D Forum on Three Key Policy Areas. During this forum, students had conversations with leading scholars and practitioners on important public policy issues facing the next President and Congress.

To view pictures of the D4D Conference, click here.

Following the conference, the team from Berea College used their award to advocate for an end to mountaintop removal mining, including a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with environmental leaders. Beth Coleman (left), the leader of the Berea team, met with Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change in the Obama Administration, in May 2009 to discuss mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. To read about her exciting journey from the Debating to Democracy National Event in New York in 2008 to the corridors of power in Washington, DC in 2009, click here.