American Democracy Project

Site Search

American Democracy ProjectAmerican Democracy Project

American Democracy Project

About Us Voter Friendly Campus badge

The American Democracy Project (ADP) is a multi-campus initiative focused on higher education’s role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy.

The goal of the American Democracy Project is to produce graduates who are committed to being active, involved citizens in their communities. The ADP's over 220 participating colleges and universities, as members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, have been described as “Stewards of Place.” As today’s undergraduates complete their studies and return to their communities, universities must prepare the next generation of citizens to become tomorrow’s “Stewards of Place.”

Cal U was one of the first universities to pilot the American Democracy Project in 2003.

Mission Statement

The ADP seeks to create a greater intellectual understanding and commitment to participate in the civic life of the United States. Focused on undergraduates at public colleges and universities, the American Democracy Project has created a collaborative network of 220 public colleges and universities, representing more than 1.7 million students, that are member institutions of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The project, sponsored by AASCU in collaboration with The New York Times, will provide opportunities for participating campuses to engage in activities and projects designed to increase the number of undergraduate students committed to meaningful civic actions.

The Campaign Trail

Two Cal U students witnessed history in the summer of 2016. Claudia Pehowic attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and Kirra Lent attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Read day-by-day reports from The Washington Center’s political seminars and their internships “backstage” at the 2016 conventions.

Information about the Supreme Court Nomination

Supreme Court nominations are among the longest lasting and consequential actions a president makes.  The Campus Election Engagement Project created a nonpartisan guide for the Neil Gorsuch nomination, given that supporters and opponents, alike, compare him to the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.  Included are examples of rulings that one or more new members could impact.  You are encouraged to reflect on these decisions and contact your two senators in support or in opposition to the nomination.  Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) can be contacted here and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) can be reached here Students from other states can find their senators' names and contact information at the U.S. Senate contact page.

Read the Campus Election Engagement Project Supreme Court Nomination Guide.

Executive Orders

Learn the basics about executive orders, which have been used for purposes ranging from ending discrimination in federal housing and hiring to ordering “sanctuary cities” to comply with federal immigration law or lose federal funding.

Events and Speakers

2015 - 2016

Constitution Day

California University marked Constitution Day 2015 with a panel discussion exploring money and politics. Special guest was attorney Patrick J. Brier, who was joined three Cal U faculty members for the free presentation. Read more

National Voter Registration Day

Cal U marked National Voter Registration Day with a voter registration drive in the lobby of Manderino Library and in the kiosk area outside the Natali Student Center. Read more

Pennsylvania 49thLegislative House of Representatives Candidates Forum

The League of Women Voters of Washington County, Pa., and the American Democracy Project at Cal U hosted a candidates forum so voters could hear from Democratic and Republican candidates vying to represent the 49th Legislative District in the state House of Representatives. Read more

Alan Abramowitz

Dr. Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University, returned to Cal U to discuss "Beyond Trump's Insults and Clinton's Emails: How Polarization and Negative Partisanship Are Shaping the 2016 Election." Read more

Reports from the 2016 National Conventions

Kirra Lent (Democratic National Convention) and Claudia Pehowic (Republican National Convention) will be filing reports.


Ellen Mariko Boyle (Mari) is a delegate to the 2016 College Convention. Her photo can be found here

2014 - 2015

Wicked Problems

April 23, 2015

This discussion introduces a new series of campus conversations about “wicked problems” — social or cultural problems such as poverty, sustainability and equality that are difficult, if not impossible, to solve. 

This initial discussion will introduce the campus community to the concept.


   Dr. Alfonso Vergaray, Department of History and Political Science


   Dr. Mary O’Connor, Department of Nursing

   Dr. Ambrus Price, Department of History and Political Science

   Dr. Gregory Spicer, Department of Communication Studies

   Dr. Michelle Torragano, Department of Childhood Education 

"Yik, Yak, Super PAC: Social Media Tools Used in Politics"

April 21, 2015

Mark Weaver, a nationally acclaimed campaign and communications consultant, discusses the role of social media in today’s political arena.

Weaver is a graduate of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and Widener School of Law. A communications adviser with decades of experience in political and issue campaigns, he also has worked extensively with public and private sector clients on crisis communications and media relations. 

Constitution Day

September 17, 2014

“Ethics in Government” featured four faculty members and a guest speaker.


  • Dr. Gary DeLorenzo, Department of Math, Computer Science, and Computer Information Systems


  • Dr. Melanie Blumberg, Department of History & Political Science
    “Forgiving Voters:  Prudent, Tolerant or Oblivious?”
  • Dr. Ambrus Price, Department of History & Political Science
    “The Crime of Being a Public Official”
  • Mr. Stephen Russell, expert and consultant on political, Hollywood, and sports culture
    “Presidential Rhetoric at Its Zenith and Nadir in Shaping Ethics in Government”
  • Dr. Emily Sweitzer, Department of Modern Languages, Philosophy & Socio-Cultural Studies
    “Ethics on Demand”

National Voter Registration Day

September 23, 2014

The American Democracy Project sponsored National Voter Registration Day. Several individuals played an instrumental role in the day’s success:  Ms. Joy Helsel, Director of Fraternity & Sorority Like/Special Publications who scheduled volunteers; Mr. Wesley Attwood, American Democracy Project Graduate Assistant, and Ms. Jessica Slabon, Political Science major, who anchored the tables and trained volunteers; and, students in Dr. Melanie Blumberg’s American Politics and Campaign Management classes who helped register voters.        

“A Career in Law”

November 6, 2014

A. Tereasa Rerko, a Cal U alumna and partner in Quatrini Rafferty, to discuss legal careers with prospective law school applicants. She covered topics ranging from undergraduate coursework to finding the first job. 

Election Analysis Forum

November 11, 2014

The American Democracy Project arranged and co-sponsored the 2014 Election Analysis Forum, which is its biennial signature program. The event is the only one of its kind, as it brings together nationally acclaimed parties and elections experts just one week after the presidential and midterm elections to dissect the results.


  • Jon Delano (KDKA-TV)


  • Dr. Alan Abramowitz, Emory University
  • Dr. William Binning, Youngstown State University
  • Mr. Louis Jacobson,
  • Dr. Costas Panagopoulos, Fordham University

2013 - 2014

2013 Constitution Day

Cal U marked Constitution Day by exploring the trademark leadership of Gen. Colin Powell, a decorated military leader and the first African-American to serve as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as Secretary of State.

2013 National Voter Registration Day

In celebration of National Voter Registration Day, Cal U held a voter registration drive, which included an “open mic” for students, faculty, and staff to express their views on the importance of voting and concerns about current policy debates.  

Alan Abramowitz

Dr. Alan Abramowitz, a popular expert on national politics, polling and elections, discussed the deep political divisions among American voters in his talk, “Partisan, Sorted and Polarized: The New American Electorate.”

2012 - 2013

Leadership and Public Service

The Hon. Theresa Dellick, juvenile court judge for Mahoning County, Ohio, delivered the keynote address at Leadership and Public Service, a daylong series of leadership workshops at Cal U.

Organized by the campus chapter of the American Democracy Project and the Linda and Harry Serene Leadership Institute, the event was designed to spark discussion of leadership on campus, in the community and across the nation.

National Conventions and Constitution Day

Nine Cal U students witnessed democracy in action at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Through the Washington Center, they were placed in fieldwork positions to learn more about politics, the host committee, or the media covering the news.

They returned to campus and shared their experience with the Cal U community during the annual Constitution Day on campus. Read more about their experiences. 

2012 Election Outlook and Forum

A popular team of political experts, moderated by political commentator Jon Delano of KDKA-TV, returned to Cal U twice in 2012 to predict and then analyze the presidential election.

Panelists were:

  • William C. Binning, chair emeritus of the Department of Political Science at Youngstown State University, Ohio.
  • Louis Jacobson, staff writer for the Pulitzer Prize-winning website, a contributing writer for PoliticsPA, and a contributing editor at National Journal magazine.
  • Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy and the graduate program in Elections and Campaign Management at Fordham University, New York.
  • Daniel Shea, director of the Center for the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College, Maine.

Debate Watch

For the third time in its history, Cal U participated in Debate Watch, a nationwide program held under the auspices of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Students, faculty, staff and members of the public gathered to view the televised debates between the major-party candidates for president and vice president of the United States.

Election Night

The Cal U community picked their Election Night winners, then viewed the results as they came in at Election Night 2012. Dr. Melanie Blumberg, a professor in the Department of History and Political Science was on on hand to guide informal discussions about the returns.

DNC stage.

2011 - 2012

“Profile in Courage: Guarding the Vote”

Jennifer Brunner, a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award winner and past secretary of state in Ohio, presented “Profile in Courage: Guarding the Vote” April 24 in Eberly Science and Technology Center. 

Before her presentation, two panels of experts discussed politics and voting rights in Pennsylvania.

  •  In “New Barriers to the Ballot,” a roundtable discussion, Drs. Michael Slaven, Craig Smith and Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, from the Department of History and Political Science, were joined by student Courtney Cochran, who recently completed a research project on the new voter identification law.
  • “Leadership & Politics” was moderated by Dr. Anthony Rodi, with panelists Dr. Michael Hummel, director of the Linda and Harry Serene Leadership Institute at Cal U; Lawrence Maggi, a Washington County Commissioner; and Judge Janet Moschetta Bell, from Washington County.

Portrait of Jennifer Brunner

2012 Election Outlook: The Race for the White House

Jon Delano, money and politics editor for KDKA-TV, served as moderator for a panel of political experts as they examined the outlook for this year’s presidential and congressional elections. Serving on the panel was William C. Binning, professor emeritus of political science at Youngstown State University; Louis Jacobson, staff writer for the PolitiFact online fact-checking website and a frequent contributor to; Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University in New York; and Daniel M. Shea, director of the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.

Image of Jon Delano moderating the 2012 Election Outlook panel.

Constitution Day

Sixth-graders from Benjamin Franklin Elementary in Uniontown, Pa., shared their views on a variety of politically themed topics as the Cal U community observed Constitution Day with “Kids Talk Democracy II,” a panel presentation in the Old Main Chapel. Moderator was Dr. Holly Diehl, an associate professor in the Department of Early, Middle and Special Education.

Photo of President Angelo Armenti, Jr. shaking hands with students from Ben Franklin Elementary School.


2010 - 2011

Constitution Day

The purpose of Constitution Day is to ensure that students in the United States are gaining an increased knowledge and appreciation for this important document of freedom. The 2010 Constitution Day opened with a tribute to the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia. A panel of Cal U faculty members then discussed "Civil Liberties at Time of War." Speakers were Dr. Aref Al-Khattar, Dr. Craig Smith, and Dr. John Cencich. Moderator was  Dr. Emily Sweitzer.

Dr. Michael Slaven gives tribute to Senator Byrd.

Election Analysis Forum

Jon Delano, money and politics editor for KDKA-TV, served as moderator for a panel of political experts as they examined the results of the 2010 election. Serving on the panel was William C. Binning, professor emeritus of political science at Youngstown State University; Louis Jacobson, staff writer for the PolitiFact online fact-checking website and a frequent contributor to; Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University in New York; and Daniel M. Shea, director of the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.

  Click on the image below to view a slideshow of the event.

Civic Responsibility: People, Policy and Politics

Author, syndicated columnist and TV political commentator Donna Brazile headlined a conference focusing on environmental responsibility and civic engagement. The conference opened with a lecture by Terry Collins, a founder of the “green chemistry” field and director of the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

Donna Brazile speaks at Cal U.

2012 Election Outlook

Communications expert Mark Weaver shared his insights on the current political landscape and gave career advice to Cal students during the 2012 Election Outlook.

  Click on the image below to view a slideshow of the event.

Voter Registration

Students helped register voters on campus at Cal U and throughout the California Borough.

2009 - 2010

Constitution Day

The 2009 Constitution Day featured a Cal U faculty panel discussion focusing on "Gun Ownership: Right or Privilege?"

Diane Wilson: An Unreasonable Woman

Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation shrimp-boat captain, environmental activist and author, described her battles with corporate polluters to students at Cal U while participating in a 47-day hunger strike organized by the United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Diane Wilson speaks at Cal U.

The Audacity of Hope: A Reality Check

Political commentator Jon Delano, of KDKA-TV moderated a team of political experts that reflected on the first year of the Obama presidency. Serving on the panel was William C. Binning, professor emeritus of political science at Youngstown State University; Louis Jacobson, staff writer for the PolitiFact online fact-checking website and a frequent contributor to; Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University in New York; and Daniel M. Shea, director of the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.

Jon Delano addresses panel.

Help for Haiti: A Special Convocation

"Help for Haiti" focused on long-range problems related to the devastating earthquake that leveled the Haitian capital, killed tens of thousands and left many thousands more homeless. Moderator for the panel was Dr. Kelton Edmonds, of the Department of History and Political Science. Panelists were Cal U faculty members Dr. David Boehm, of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, who discussed the environmental consequences of the quake; Dr. Deborah Farrer, of the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, who talked about the disaster's effect on children and education; Dr. Emily Sweitzer, of the Department of Justice, Law & Society, who spoke about child trafficking; Dr. Kyle Fredrick, of the Department of Earth Sciences, who discussed the cause of earthquakes; and Dr. Cheryl Hettman, of the Department of Nursing, who explained possible health risks.

Help for Haiti

Voter Registration

Students helped register voters on campus at Cal U and throughout the California Borough.

2008 - 2009

Deliberative Polling® Initiative

Deliberative Polling® employs social science to determine what people would think about an issue if they became more engaged and informed. Cal U was one of a select group of colleges and universities to participate in the pilot program. It hosted a landmark series that included lectures by George Mehaffy, vice president of Academic Leadership and Change at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU); James Fishkin, director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University; and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., nephew of President John F. Kennedy and an environmental lawyer.

Inauguration Day

Students and other members of the Cal U community gathered at the Performance Center inside the Natali Student Center to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Inauguration Day at Cal U

ADP Introduction


Upcoming Events

Constitution Day
September 18, 2017

"The Right to Dissent"
10 a.m.
Duda Hall 103

"[Un]truths and Consequences"
1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Manderino Library 208

National Voter Registration Day
September 26, 2017


American Democracy Project National Website

American Democracy Project Advisory Board

Cal Campaign Consultants


College Democrats and College Republicans

Deliberative Polling® Initiative

Department of History, Politics & Society

Electoral Voices

iOme Challenge

Reports from the 2012 National Conventions

The Campaign Trail

Register to Vote

Voting for:

Pennsylvania residents

Residents of other states

Why your vote will matter in Pennsylvania


  Portrait of Dr. Melanie J. Blumberg
   Dr. Melanie J. Blumberg
   Program Director