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Davidson Students Develop Community Information Hub

Stacey Reimer
Stacey Riemer, associate dean of students and director of the center for civic engagement, hopes the hub will lead to social innovation and advocacy.

Davidson's Center for Civic Engagement has launched the state's first student-initiated community information hub through PolicyOptions.org. The initiative is committed to reviving civic communication by making public information more accessible to all.

The Davidson bureau of PolicyOptions.org, supported by the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, is not only the first PolicyOptions.org bureau to be initiated by students but also the first in North Carolina.

Kristin Booher, director of the Bonner Scholars program said, "Bonner Scholars are encouraged to work with community partner organizations in capacity building efforts that deepen their involvement beyond direct service. PolicyOptions.org allows students to gain a better understanding of the larger issues to inform their capacity building work."

The PolicyOptions.org network seeks to establish PolicyOptions.org bureaus as local, community "information hubs" that provide comprehensive, up-to-date information about community issues.

Davidson's student leadership team for the initiative consists of several co-editors who built the site's infrastructure. The site provides a directory of organizations, programs and people; news digests on local, state and national issues; profiles of model programs and policies; and issue briefs on topics of local interest.

This initiative was recently featured on the LEAD blog of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). For three years Davidson has been a part of NASPA's LEAD initiative, which comprises a network of 92 member colleges and universities committed to promoting student affairs in making civic learning and democratic engagement a part of every student's education.

Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Center for Civic Engagement Stacey Riemer hopes that Davidson's PolicyOptions.org bureau will stimulate engaged scholarship at Davidson and stronger collaborations in our community. "This not just a website-this is a strategy to build community capacity by assessing community needs and resources," she said.

Riemer said the bureau has great potential to make community involvement more coordinated and effective. "The site will be a success if it leads individuals to various forms of civic engagement from community-based learning to social innovation to advocacy," she explained. 

Individuals interested in specific community issues can subscribe to the site's news digest, which provides information on engagement opportunities and happenings issue by issue.

Furthermore, students who contribute content to the site will gain skills in civic communication. The briefs and information they produce also will inform public forums and debates surrounding those issues.