VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Chiesman Center for Democracy hosts the Chiesman Symposium on Democracy Nov. 8 from 1-3 p.m. in the Freedom Forum Conference Room located in the Al Neuharth Media Center.
The symposium begins with the launch of the Chiesman Center at USD and new statewide public opinion poll – The South Dakota Poll.
The South Dakota Poll is a non-partisan statewide opinion poll that asks South Dakota residents for their perspectives on most pressing issues, specific policy measures and the performance of policy makers. The poll was created by the Chiesman Center in collaboration with South Dakota News Watch and Five Star Call Centers.
Shane Nordyke, associate professor of political science and the Allene R. Chiesman Distinguished Professor of Democracy, said they plan to conduct the poll on a regular basis so policy makers and residents have real, objective data on priorities and concerns of South Dakota. As one of the smaller population states, Nordyke explained South Dakota often gets left out of national polls or they focus on issues that aren’t directly relevant to the lives of South Dakotans.
“A healthy democracy relies on voters that are informed about the issues, but also on policymakers that are informed about the concerns and perspectives of their constituents,” said Nordyke. “We are excited to shed light on how South Dakotans think about policy issues and governance in the state. Rather than having to rely on anecdotal impressions, policymakers will have real, non-partisan data on the perspectives and concerns of residents in South Dakota.”
Students of the applied government research class will take part in the polling process by helping create the survey, collecting some of the data and analyzing the results. Being involved in the processes, Nordyke said the students will gain important skills for their future careers.
“Working on the Chiesman Project has been a very rewarding experience,” Kat Callahan, a political science major and a student in the Applied Government Research class, said. “I am super excited to see the reactions and ratings that individuals gave to key national issues and what they believe they can do to argue for or against those same issues.”
To conclude the symposium Cherie Strachan, professor of political science at Central Michigan University and author of the recent book, “Why Women Don’t Rule the World: Understanding Women’s Civic and Political Choices,” will give a talk from 2-3 p.m.
Strachan’s research addresses partisan polarization, political civility and civic engagement pedagogy – especially opportunities for political learning in deliberative forums and in campus student organizations. She currently serves as the review editor for the Journal of Political Science Education and is the co-founder and co-director of the Consortium for Inter-Campus SoTL Research (CISR). With over 200-member campuses and an advisory board composed of prominent teacher-scholars in political science, CISR facilitates multi-campus data collection to assess campus-wide civic engagement initiatives and political science pedagogy.
The USD Chiesman Center is housed within the Department of Political Science and collaborates closely with the W.O. Farber for Civic Education and the Government Research Bureau. The center supports research and civic education activities addressing on-going challenges to American democracy.