Engaging Citizens: The Power of Collaboration in Democracy

"Memorial Presents" Public Forum

Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 7:30 pm (NST)

Innovation Hall, Bruneau Centre for Innovation and Research, Memorial University, St. John's, NL


Complacency, comfort, wealth, and apathy have left our society more fragmented, and our democracy more beleaguered, than ever before. While our parents and grandparents were more likely to start or join social and civic groups and vote in elections, today, these types of civic participation are dwindling. The result is a growing disconnect between individuals and their community—between our day-to-day lives and our civic rights and responsibilities as citizens. The result is a squandering of social capital and a weakening of democracy.

With people skipping elections in record numbers, and long-standing civic and social community institutions dying off for lack of interest, how can civic engagement be restored? How can disillusionment with politics and governments be overcome? How can we recreate an air of civility, social cohesion, and a sense of common good? What is the role of new and traditional media in all of this? And—during the launch of Memorial’s Public Engagement Framework – what is the role of the university in fostering engaged citizens?


Stan DeetzKaren Stanbridge, is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology at Memorial University. She is a political sociologist who special- izes in state theory, nationalism, and social move- ments. Her current research focuses on how cul- tural understandings of children and childhood are taken up by nationalist movements in support of nationalist ideals. Stanbridge’s work has appeared in scholarly journals such as The Sociological Quar- terly, Nations and Nationalism, and the Journal of Historical Sociology. Her second book, co-authored with Howard Ramos of Dalhousie University, is See- ing Politics Differently: An Introduction to Political Sociology (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Scott Matthews is an Associate Professor of political science at MUN and Director of the Canadian Opinion Research Archive at Queen's University. He is a specialist in the study of elections, voting and public opinion in Canada and the United States. Matthews has written on diverse topics related to civic engagement, including voter turnout, social capital and, most recently, the influence of new media technologies on political attitudes. His research has appeared in, among other venues, the British Journal of Political Science and Electoral Studies.

Janna Rosales works at the intersection of the sciences and humanities. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science where she studies technology’s social and ethical impacts, and teaches in the areas of ethics, communication, and professionalism. Her work also explores the role that universities can play in educating 21st Century global citizens, with a particular focus on creativity studies, leadership development, and dialogue education. Most recently she has contributed writing on student engagement to University Affairs magazine, been a member of the Expert Working Group for the Office of Public Engagement at Memorial University, and spoke on “Education the Ignites the Heart and Mind” at the province’s first-ever TEDxFortTownshend event.

David Cochrane is the Provincial Affairs Reporter for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador and the host of the political talk shows On Point and On Point Radio. David has also worked in the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau and in Toronto as a host with CBC News Network. Born in St. John's, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland. David has won journalism awards for enterprise reporting, continuing coverage, spot news and feature writing. He is currently the president of the House of Assembly Press Gallery Association.

This public forum is presented in partnership with Engage Memorial Week.