actoutActOut Now Education through Action Project and The Democracy Commitment present:

ActOut 2.0 Conference for Civic Engagement

Moraine Business and Conference Center (Building M)

Friday, April 21, 2017
9 a.m.-4 p.m.

This is a reimagining of the ActOut service learning fair and student showcase that has been held in the spring for four years straight.

The theme for this conference is “Our Common Ground: A Space for Civil Discourse.”

The conference is striving toward an honest understanding of contemporary social issues that bridges the political divide and offers real world ideas for nonpartisan civic engagement and problem-solving action.

Keynote Speaker

Verdis Robinson
National Director, The Democracy Commitment
Verdis LeVar Robinson is the first national director of The Democracy Commitment (TDC). He was previously employed as a tenured assistant professor of history and African-American studies at Monroe Community College (MCC) in Rochester, New York, where he also taught writing-intensive, web-enhanced, service-learning courses for ten years.


Conference Workshops

Topic Track: Issue and Awareness Building

Look Beyond the Hashtag: Incorporating Civic Discourse about Civic Engagement
Presenter: Nicole Selvaggio, Communications Adjunct Instructor at Moraine Valley
The world has become more social and more vocal. When thinking about our modernized way of expression, to what extent do concepts get looked at on a deeper level? While sharing media-driven, sensationalized stories on social websites like Twitter and Facebook may be a clear, effective way of getting thoughts across, are we looking at the bigger picture? A trending hashtag can only say so much. Look at how social media can be used to foster civic discourse. Specifically, we will think critically “beyond the hashtag” and discuss the deeper issues in the world we live in.

The Climate Is Changing
Presenter: Mike Erickson, Earth Science Adjunct Faculty Member at Moraine Valley
Participants will learn about current climate change issues, different policies around climate change initiatives and opportunities to be engaged in moving good policy forward.

When Words Become Sticks and Stones: The Truth about Trigger Warnings in Classroom Discussions
Presenter: Amanda Mesirow, Code of Conduct Coordinator at Moraine Valley
Trigger warnings have become a hotly debated issue in the educational setting, on social media and wherever controversial or difficult topics are articulated, argued or assigned. This interactive presentation will seek to define a trigger warning and share how the practice can benefit classroom and campus environments.

Understanding LGBTQ Issues through Research
Presenters: Moraine Valley Librarians Tish Hayes, Dan Matthews and Marie Martino
Civic action often compels us to work with people different from us or on issues we don’t personally understand. Research can help you better acquaint yourself with those people and key issues they may face, although researching people who traditionally have been marginalized in society is often tricky. Presenters will explore these issues by highlighting the LGBTQ community as a commonly misrepresented group. They will provide examples of problematic sources in media and academic research, complicate the pro/con approach to research related to LGBTQ issues and discuss the impact of our environment on the way we pursue information and understand this community.​

It Can’t Happen Here: Fascist Ideology in America
Presenter: Dr. Randy Conner, Humanities Instructor at Moraine Valley
The American fascist movement of the 1930s and ‘40s might have existed as a small collection of right-wing extremists only if heads of major corporations, prominent publishers, congressmen, anti-feminist women, popular culture icons, large numbers of German Americans and Anglo-Saxons, Christian Fundamentalists, German Nazi government officials, and other pro-fascist leaders had not supported it financially, politically, militarily, culturally, and religiously. Their agenda included: deregulation of industries; reduction of taxes on corporations; actions (including violence) against labor and unions; policies against immigration, especially of Mexicans; censorship; propagandistic media; white supremacy, together with extreme racism, especially against Jews and African Americans, and struggle against civil and human rights for minorities; linking of fascism with “traditional family values” and Christian Fundamentalism; “fake news”; “Doublespeak” (e.g., an anti-feminist women’s movement) in an attempt to influence the U.S. Presidential election against President F. Roosevelt. Since Donald J. Trump commenced his campaign, and especially since his inauguration, many respected individuals have questioned whether a Trump presidency might lead toward fascism. Such concern is not motivated by paranoia, but American history.

Topic Track: Civil Practice and Action

The View from the Other Side of the Fence: Tips for Influencing Public Officials from a Politician
Presenter: Tom McAvoy, Alderman (3rd Ward) of Hickory Hills Council
Alderman McAvoy will offer frank talk about what makes elected public officials “tick” and how to influence them regarding legislation, public policies and establishing new (or improving existing) government services. Emphasis is on local politics and government. Hear keys to understanding the differences between what politicians want most and practical ways to position yourself or your issue to get their attention and eventually (possibly) getting them to do what you want.

Service Learning as a Pedagogical Model in Psychology
Presenter: Nickolas Shizas, Psychology Associate Professor at Moraine Valley
Understand the benefits and barriers of using Service Learning in a Psychology course from the perspectives of both faculty and students. Presenters will discuss experiences and insights gained, pedagogical recommendations, and the application and learning of psychological concepts through service and experiential learning.

Life During and After the Peace Corps
Presenter: Michael Morsches, Learning Enrichment and College Readiness Dean at Moraine Valley
This session will review Morsches’ Peace Corps experiences in Jamaica, Yemen and Tanzania. He also will detail how those experiences have altered his life and career paths, particularly in terms of human service. The session will conclude with information about local volunteer experiences.

Learning to Listen to Opposing Views
Presenter: Kevin Navratil, Political Science Assistant Professor at Moraine Valley
Civil discourse, whether online, in the media or face-to-face, is often afflicted with toxic and polarizing dialogue that only serves to further polarize and divide people. This presentation will apply lessons from Celeste Headlee’s TED Talks on communication to improve politically oriented conversations with the aim of helping people learn to listen and understand opposing views.


About The Democracy Commitment
As a founding member of The Democracy Commitment, Moraine Valley Community College commits to engage our students, faculty, staff, and community members in civic learning and democratic practice. The Democracy Commitment is a national community college initiative with the goal of giving every graduate of an American community college an education in democracy. To that end, Moraine Valley integrates service opportunities, advocacy and policy creation, guest lectures and faculty development into its teaching and learning.

About ActOut Now
ActOut Now is dedicated to bringing service learning opportunities to students of all ages in order to help build community and foster a culture of kindness. Its “Education through Action Project” provides a platform from which to jump into action and to engage with one’s community through resources, events, and opportunities designed to connect with fellow human beings in and around Chicagoland.