E&H Students to Participate in Civic Discussions Panel Hosted by Stanford University


Stanford University

The Shaping Our Future event hopes to provide college students from across the nation the opportunity to collectively discuss current issues.

Emory & Henry College was among one of 37 institutions chosen by Stanford University to participate in their Shaping Our Future event.

This event allows a diverse group of college students from across the country to gather and discuss their views on current topics.

Bradley Hartsell, Integrative Learning Technology Coordinator at E&H, explained that the nationwide opportunity was brought to E&H’s attention by the Bonner Scholars program.

“This event is not affiliated with Bonner, nor is the school who hosts the event, but the Bonner Foundation caught wind of it and passed it along to us,” Hartsell said. “E&H, led by Maggie Obermann, had to fill out an application in hopes of Stanford selecting us.”

After the college was selected, the process began of selecting students to participate in the program.

Stanford’s policy required E&H to randomly select 400 students to invite to the event, but only 15 students will be selected to officially participate.

“To initially be selected is a random chance. Then, you have to fill out the interest form saying you actually want to participate, and then it goes back to random chance if Stanford makes you one of the 15 finalists,” Hartsell explained. “The 15 finalists get a $75 stipend, so there’s definitely incentive for participating.”

Students will be able to discuss a multitude of different topics during the event.

For example, Hartsell stated that some of the topics scheduled are discussions of minimum wage, election reform, and COVID-19 relief.

Hartsell believes Stanford is providing a unique experience for college students with an event of this kind.

“So often it may feel like nobody listens to or cares about what a 19-year-old sophomore thinks about the world, but Shaping Our Future puts the power in the students’ hands for once,” he said. “Ultimately, beyond the data, beyond two days of civil discussion, what Shaping Our Future is about, in my opinion, is having young people active and engaged in discussion.”

Megan Doody, a junior at E&H, is one of the students from the college who has completed the interest form and hopes to take advantage of the opportunity.

“It will be a great chance to learn and discuss current issues, which I always enjoy, and events like this do not happen all that often,” Doody said. “Especially now, after 2020, with current issues of racial justice and police reformation. To be able to talk about it and discuss policies is extremely important and exciting.”

Doody is also grateful that students from this region have the opportunity to interact with students from all over the nation.

“Where we are from and where we live can really factor into our opinions and views, which is why the diversity in this event is important,” she said. “We’re such a small community in the middle of nowhere that even being selected for this was an honor for the school, and students need to engage with it to represent the school and make our community known outside our corner of Southwest Virginia.”

Although only 15 students will be selected to participate in the official panel, Hartsell explained that another event will be happening simultaneously, which is available to any student who is interested.

“Thanks to Zoom, there will also be a parallel ‘unofficial’ event that anybody can participate in; it will have the same format and same discussion topics. We would love to have as many students as possible in this parallel event,” Hartsell said. “Unfortunately, there’s no stipend for those parallel students but it’s a great way to still have your voice heard.”

Any E&H student who is interested in this panel or has questions about the event can email Bradley Hartsell or Maggie Obermann for more information.