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Walt Whitman Center

Fall 2012 events 

Monday, September 24, 8:00 p.m.
Trayes Hall, Douglass Campus Center
Constitution Day event:  “Do we need a Constitutional Convention?”
Rutgers Debate Society debate, with faculty panel (Bert Levine, Andrew Murphy, and Melanye Price) to follow

Co-sponsored by the Darien Fund for the U.S. Constitution, Citizenship, and Civic Engagement and the Eagleton Institute of Politics

Thursday, October 4, 3:30 p.m.
Eagleton Institute of Politics
“Presidents, Politics, and Poems:  Inaugural Poetry and the American Presidency”  A public poetry reading and discussion
With readings by Mia Bay, Ruth Mandel, Delia Pitts, and Barry Qualls

Co-sponsored by the Eagleton Institute of Politics

Monday, October 8, 11:00 a.m.
Sigel Lounge, Hickman Hall
David Gutterman, Willamette University
“American Cipher:  Barack Obama and the Importance of Political Narratives”

Thursday October 11 (two events)
Christopher Phillips, Constitution Café
               4:00 p.m., “Constitution Café” (interactive, student-friendly event)           Scarlet Latte Coffeehouse, Alexander Library
               8:00 p.m.  “Rethinking Democracy” (public lecture) Multipurpose Room, Rutgers Student Center

Co-sponsored by the Darien Fund for the U.S. Constitution, Citizenship, and Civic Engagement, Eagleton Institute of Politics, and the Rutgers Office of Undergraduate Education

Monday, November 19, 3:00 p.m.
Sigel Lounge, Hickman Hall
Joanne Wright, University of New Brunswick (CA)
“Breast Implant Surgery as Pro-Woman? Making Consent Political in the Era of Choice Feminism”





Darien Learning Community:  Citizenship and Civic Engagement

Non-Residential Learning Community

The Darien Learning Community allows students to take what they learn in the classroom about American politics and political thought, and put it into action on the Rutgers campus and in the New Brunswick community.  This learning community is offered in the fall and in the spring.  Students have the option of doing either learning community experience or both!    Students enroll in a three credit Political science course taught by Professor Andrew Murphy of the Department of Political Science (Political Science 375 for fall and 376 for spring). In conjunction with their coursework, DLC students participate in hands-on political experiences administered by Dr. Elizabeth Matto of the Eagleton Institute of Politics. In the fall, DLC students work on RU Voting, an initiative to register, educated, and mobilize Rutgers students to be politically active. In the spring, DLC students participate in RU ReadyTM, a civic education initiative administered in New Brunswick and area schools.

Eligibility:

  • Open to SAS, SEBS, RBS students of all majors and class years.
  • Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Participation Requirements:

1.  Learning Community members must co- register for Political Science 01:790:250:01  Topics in Political Science 1.5 credits and Political Science   01:790:375 American Political Thought 3 credits.

2.  Topics course is held once a week, 10:55am – 12:10pm, at Woodlawn Mansion Library, 191 Ryders Lane, Cook/Douglass Campus.   In the fall, DLC students work on RU Voting, an initiative to register, educated, and mobilize Rutgers students to be politically active. In the spring, DLC students participate in RU ReadyTM, a civic education initiative administered in New Brunswick and area schools.

3.  DLC students will make weekly blog entries to the Darien Learning Community blog on topics specified by Professor Murphy and Dr. Matto.

4.  Make a public presentation regarding the learning community experience at a culminating event to be held at the Eagleton Institute of Politics.

5.  Students enrolled in 790: 250 and 790:375 will have the opportunity to be subjects in research studying students’ political knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The research includes an online assessment; the identity of research subjects will remain confidential; participation is voluntary; and students will be offered an opportunity to opt out of the research at the beginning of the semester without penalty. Acceptance into the DLC is not contingent upon students’ willingness to be research participants.

Application Process:
To request an application, contact Ghada Endick at rulc@echo.rugers.edu. Application deadline is Friday, March 30, 2012.        

More information available here.

The Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy was founded in 1998 by Benjamin Barber, who served as its director and as the Walt Whitman Professor of Political Science at Rutgers until 2001.  It is fitting that a Center that takes as its focus the culture and politics of democracy, and that is located in the state of New Jersey, should be named for Walt Whitman.  Whitman spent the final nineteen years of his life in Camden, and it was there that he arranged and published the final version – the 1892 “deathbed” edition – of his masterwork Leaves of Grass.  And if this isn’t enough to cement the connection between Whitman and New Jersey, one should note that Whitman was inaugurated as a posthumous member of the “Class of 2009” into the New Jersey Hall of Fame (a class that included rocker Jon Bon Jovi, comedians Abbott and Costello and Jerry Lewis, and basketball star Shaquille O’Neal).

Whitman’s vision of the United States as not merely a nation with a democratic form of government, but a democratic society – with all the cultural, political, aesthetic, and spiritual dimensions that such a term might evoke – provides the foundational premise for the Whitman Center’s mission statement (see below).  Whitman understood democracy not merely as a governmental system, or as a way of distributing political offices, but as a broader way of life; and as an ongoing challenge to current policies and practices.  He wrote in Democratic Vistas that

We have frequently printed the word Democracy.  Yet I cannot too often repeat that it is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawakened…. It is a great word, whose history, I suppose remains unwritten, because that history has yet to be enacted. 

Thus, a Whitmanesque approach to the possibilities of democratic life provides contemporary Americans with a standard for evaluating, celebrating (where appropriate), and criticizing (where appropriate) their own values and practices.  It also provides a way of theorizing the deep diversity that characterizes American society in the twenty-first century, for Whitman continually emphasized, in his poetry as well as his prose, the plurality, the multiplicity, and the future-orientation of American democratic culture.  

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89 George Street
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