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Education for Democracy Election 2020 virtual series: Session 1

September 16, 2020 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Countdown to Election 2020: Together, We Got This!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
3:00-4:30 PM EDT

About the Session

 As Election Day 2020 fast approaches, institutional leaders, faculty, staff, and student coalitions know that this is an election like none other in recent history. Students face both technical (where, when, and how to vote, confusing and changing rules, extreme inconvenience, voter suppression) and motivational (disillusionment with the system, lack of social cohesion, physical distancing, misinformation) barriers that call for immediate and campus-wide attention.  In this interactive session, participants will work in small groups on distinct challenges to create a vision of success and brainstorm ways to achieve that success. Participants will also hear from researchers examining this election season in the context of the pandemic and robust activism about ways to rise to this critical moment in U.S. history. Active participation via breakout discussion is expected of any registrants, so please join in person. This session will be facilitated by Duy Trinh and Nancy Thomas at Tufts University/Tisch College’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, the applied research center that sends you your NSLVE reports and Election Imperatives 2.0 and 2020, research-driven recommendations for strengthening student political learning, discourse, equity, and participation in democracy.


During the session, participants will have a chance to join discussion breakouts; these will be generative conversations among participants, not formally facilitated. The topics will include:

  • The mechanics of voting: what, when, where, and how and sharing the best resources for each
  • Barriers to student voting: from inconvenience to suppression
  • Political, fine. Partisan, not so much: What academics can and cannot say this election season.
  • The role of faculty in promoting electoral engagement and policy discussions via remote learning.
  • The role of campus leadership and administration in supporting political learning and electoral participation
  • Building inclusive, intercultural coalitions around elections
  • Planning for “the morning after.” What might happen, how do we prepare?
  • Encouraging activism in a time of mandatory physical distancing
  • The rise of white nationalism and extremism – what are the facts, what do campuses do?
  • Preventing or managing speech that is hostile and targeted to identifiable groups of students
  • Misinformation, half-truths, and boldfaced lies
  • Embedding racial justice in electoral engagement
  • The convergence of pop culture and activism: is it working?

About the Facilitators

Dr. Nancy Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. IDHE conducts applied research on college and university political learning, discourse, inclusion, and participation. IDHE is well-known for NSLVE (“n-solve”) the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, a national research project launched in 2013 and now involving more than 1,100 U.S. colleges and universities nationwide. IDHE researchers provide each participating campus a tailored report containing their students’ aggregate registration and voting rates, broken down by student demographics such as class year, age, and race/ethnicity, and field of study.  Campuses use their reports to measure student interest in public affairs and democracy and to increase equitable participation in the democratic process. IDHE uses the NSLVE database (more than 10 million students for each of the past four federal elections) to study student voting patterns. IDHE also studies and provides resources to improve campus approaches to student political learning, discussion, and participation. Recommendations based on this research have been widely published, most recently in Election Imperatives 2.0 and Election Imperatives 2020: A Time of Physical Distancing and Social Action.

Duy Trinh is a Program Administrator for IDHE and is the first point of contact for all IDHE and NSLVE inquiries. She is responsible for maintaining and managing campus relationships of all 1,100 participating NSLVE campuses and over 3,000 point of contact. Duy is particularly interested in working with campuses to help them understand their NSLVE reports, how to use our study as a resource center, and the impact of institutions’ efforts to teach and promote civic engagement to their students and community. She holds an M.S. from Northeastern University and B.A. from Connecticut College.


September 16, 2020
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


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