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American Democracy Project at RIC

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Make Way for Gen Z:
Perspectives on Their Engagement,
​Advocacy, and Activism

Live Streaming on Monday, March 25
9:30-11:30 a.m. in Student Union Ballroom, Rhode Island College

Generation Z is learning more about the world and more quickly than past generations because of the easy flow of information. From climate change, to divisive politics, to social inequality, to natural disasters, the full force of problems has reached these digital natives at lightning speed. As they head into their 20s and into the 2020s, they will be challenged, as with previous generations, to find solutions. In that journey, their no-nonsense “since no one else is fixing the problem, we’ll take care of it ourselves” might portend a shift in thinking that carries with it the potential to change America over the next 20 years.

This forum on Generation Z activism seeks to unde​rstand a new generation of political leaders and activists by asking such questions as: What has forced Gen Z to take on the mantle of leadership so young? How does this affect their coming of age? What changes are they seeking and why? And, finally, what are their principle challenges as they seek a new vision and new ways of engaging in the political process?

REGISTER for the live stream ​event at:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/make-way-for-gen-z-perspectives-on-their-engagement-advocacy-and-activism-live-streaming-tickets-58805387497

Moderator

Deborah “Arnie” Arnesen, Community activist, political analyst, producer and radio host of The Attitude WNHN 94.7 FM in Concord, NH, former member of the New Hampshire state legislature, and first female major party NH gubernatorial nominee.

Panelists

Jeff Foster, Advanced placement government & politics teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Rey Junco, Director of Research at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Tufts University.

Rosa Ramos, Community activist and Impact Manager at City Year Providence.

Tyah-Amoy Roberts, Senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; founding member of STORM: Students Tactfully Organizing Revolutionary Movements.

Musah Mohammed Sesay, Senior at Classical High School in Providence, RI, a member of the Providence Student Union RI and a co-plaintiff in a class-action complaint that seeks to confirm the constitutional right of all public-school students to a civics education.​

Alex Wind, Senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; founding member of March for our Lives.


Our Moderator and Panelists

Deborah “Arnie” Arnesen is a radio and television commentator based in Concord, New Hampshire. She is producer and radio host for The Attitude on WNHN 94.7FM and is the only person to be recognized by the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters as both radio and television personality of the year. Arnesen was the first woman in New Hampshire state history nominated for governor by a major party and is a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Arnesen has played a pivotal role in the political education of several “generations” of Fellows from the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University. Additionally, she was a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics at Harvard. A regular political commentator on Iowa Public Radio, WGBH Boston, and WKBK in Keene, New Hampshire, she has provided analysis for NECN, C-Span, Fox News, TV Ontario, and Al Jazeera English. Arnesen has been a key political speaker for Leadership NH, the National Education Association, various centers at The Kennedy School at Harvard and is a regular college commencement speaker. She was a religion major at St Olaf College and received her JD from Vermont Law School.

Rey Junco is Director of Research at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) where he applies his extensive experience in quantitative social science research to study various aspects of youth civic and political engagement. Rey has a rich background in several interconnected fields, including education, cognitive science, and the use of technology. Before joining CIRCLE, he was a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where he worked on the Youth & Media and the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence projects. Rey has a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and he was a licensed, practicing counselor for a number of years. He also has a D.Ed. degree from Penn State.

Jeffery Foster is an Advanced Placement Government & Politics teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He is a twenty-year veteran teacher in Broward County Public schools and is passionate about ensuring that his students become life-long contributors to the political process. After the tragedy at MSD, Mr. Foster's students founded the March For Our Lives, an organization that is committed to common sense gun reform. He and one of his most famous activists, Emma Gonzalez helped organize the march in Washington DC last year that was attended by an estimated 800,000 people. Jeff currently serves as a committee member of BAWN, a group that is on the verge of obtaining enough signatures for a ballot initiative that will allow Florida citizens to vote on banning assault weapons.

Rosa Ramos was born in the Dominican Republic and came to Providence RI at the age of ten. She attended the Providence Academy of International Studies and graduated from Providence College as a first-generation college student with a double major in Global Studies and Spanish. As a young immigrant woman of color growing up in Providence, she is acutely aware of the challenges that young people face in the education system. Her mentors have inspired her to work in youth development and particularly with youth in the public education system in the city of Providence where she encourages students to graduate and gain access to higher education.

Tyah-Amoy Roberts is an up-and-coming activist and a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She co-founded the group STORM (Students Tactfully Organizing Revolutionary Movements), an organization which focuses on tangible solutions to gun violence that are both effective and intersectional. Roberts is an ambassador for United State of Women, and is also on the executive council of Team Enough, a collective of young activists from all over the country backed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She has delivered speeches to crowds with thousands in attendance, including Dr. Bernice King’s #MLK50Forward event in April of 2018 and the United State of Women’s Summit in May of 2018. She has been honored by the Fort Lauderdale Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. for her fearless pioneering and trailblazing activism. She plans on attending Stanford University in the fall to pursue chemical engineering, her lifetime passion.

Musah Mohammed Sesay is a senior at Classical High School in Providence and a member of the Providence Student Union. He is a co-plaintiff for a lawsuit seeking a federal court ruling affirming that all students are entitled to an education that prepares them to be capable voters and jurors, to exercise effectively all of their constitutional rights, and to participate effectively and intelligently in a democratic political system. The suit also asks the court to force the state of Rhode Island to address the situation through new laws or policies. As Sesay noted in his interview during a recent press conference, "Our school system in America is just inherently failing so many students because it's not giving students the information they need to actively contribute to making changes in this country."

Alex Wind was a typical high school junior prior to February 14, 2018; he was a National Honor Society scholar and an accomplished Thespian and writer. But after the tragic shooting at his school, Alex became a founding member of March For Our Lives and spent the remainder of the school year bringing the issue of gun violence in our country to light. Wind was one of five Stoneman Douglas students featured on the cover of Time magazine in 2018. Last summer he participated in the Road to Change, where he and his fellow classmates held voter registration rallies, town hall style meetings and panel discussions, met with shooting survivors as well as victims’ families, all as prelude to the 2018 mid-term elections. Now a senior, Alex is still advocating for change while continuing on his path to college.​​

Page last updated: March 18, 2019