Inside UNC Charlotte -- May 2012 -- The 49er Democracy Experience

Uploaded by unccharlottevideo on 07.05.2012

As Charlotte prepares to host its first ever
presidential nominating convention, UNC Charlotte has already
staked it's claim to what promises to be the largest event
in our region's history.
An extensive series of public activites combined with an array of classroom
content and internships for students is all aimed at making the most
of this once-in-a-lifetime experience in democracy.
Start with the web to get a feel of the scope of how the University
has set its sights on getting the most out of what's coming Charlotte's way.
>>I see this as a great opportunity to help students and the community
learn about what we do to select presidents; what it takes to have
a city manage an event like this.
Professor Eric Heberlig is one of the organizers of the
49er Democracy Experience.
That's the packaging for this series of campus and community events,
additions to the curriculum, a host of internship opportunities,
and even the use of the University facilities, all in the name of capitalizing
on the nominating convention.
>>We as a University, we're well-positioned to help communicate, interprete to
the public what's going on, why, what this means for the city
both in the short-term and the long-term.
That we have expertise across a variety of fields that could really
expand the community's understanding of what was going on in Charlotte.
Classes across the disciplines have added democracy related events
to their curricula, many well outside Heberlig's field of political science.
>>My favorite example is this being a green convention.
Well what exactly does it mean to have a green convention?
What are the engineering aspects, the architectural aspects?
That certainly shapes our understanding beyond just
what it means to select the president.
Community and business leaders, working to make the convention
a success, appear to be looking beyond partisan politics
to the benefits of Charlotte's appearance to its biggest stage.
>>That event is going to bring the eyes of the world upon us.
There's still a lot of people that don't know Charlotte.
There are a lot of people that know of Charlotte but don't
have a clear perception, not having been here perhaps.
That's going to change for lots of people.
>>Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte.
2012 national political news coverage began the day after the president's
State of the Union address, when Charlotte was examined
as a microcosm of the American economy.
The University's chief academic officer was a part of it, discussing the role of
higher education in our region's recovery.
>>But I think what we're seeing now is a different kind of manufacturing,
we're looking at advanced manufacturing.
Joan Lorden says the 49er democracy experience is
strengthening the ties between the University and Charlotte.
>>For the student it's an opportunity of a lifetime to see democracy in action
and to see it with a front row seat.
It's wonderful to have an opportunity for the community to see both
our students and our faculty and to begin to appreciate the
intellectual energy that they bring to the city.
49ers students have already been working hands-on behind the scenes,
interns in places like the Democratic National Convention
Committee's Housing office.
>>The people who I am working with in this internship are doing the
best job they can to make everything fallout as good as it can be,
and so because of that everything just has... every job has so many details to it,
so detailed oriented that you wouldn't think would exist
but it's definitely something for everybody to do.
In the internship, there's never a moment where you're like
"What do I do now?" because it's always busy.
It's getting hectic especially as time goes on closer to the convention."
Law school is next, Ana says, and the experience this year will give
her an edge throughout her career.
>>I've met a lot of amazing people who have had amazing
opportunities through their lifetime.
And it all started from an internship like the Democratic National Convention
Committee internship or an internship in the White House.
They've moved up and that's something that I look up to. I admire.
And I want to follow those footsteps, move up the same way they did.
UNC Charlotte communication studies students posted a YouTube account
of a lecture by renowned political scientist George Edwards.
The University has partnered with the prestigious Washington Center in
educational opportunities along with fellow colleges and universities in the
region in many aspects of convention related programming.
The speaker series, for instance, hosted on several campuses
aimed at broad exposure to the thoughts and ideas that
have never been more important.
>>But I think it's also something about Charlotte that this has always been
a kind of a can-do city where, when there are opportunities,
people get together and focus on making the most of them.
And I think this is a good example of Higher Ed embodying that characteristic
of the city of Charlotte.
When it's all over organizers hope that the 49er Democracy Experience
will have left its mark on the Charlotte region for years to come.
>>The students who are here now and who had at least a passing interest
in the convention would say, "Oh yeah, I had the opportunity to do some things
along with the convention and the University helped make that happen."
I think for the Charlotte community, I would want than to say, "The University
had some speakers, they had some forums, and they did things that help us understand
what was happening and why.
They gave us some access to the convention that we wouldn't have had
just sitting at home watching it happen on our television."
That in both senses we would be seen as active contributors to the process,
of not helping the convention happen per se, but helping the community engage
with the convention.