Written by Sarah Calise, Archivist
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the Albert Gore Research Center hosted two distinguished guests from Congress: Ron Sarasin, who represented Connecticut’s District 5 from 1973-1979, and Glenn Nye, who represented Virginia’s District 2 from 2009-2011. The program was part of the Congress to Campus initiative of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. Kent Syler, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Special Projects Coordinator for the AGRC, was crucial in bringing this program to MTSU as well as organizing the many classroom visits and civic discussions.
The former congressmen visited with the archive first, where they read through constituent letters on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from the Albert Gore, Sr. Senate Papers as well as material from the Bart Gordon Papers during Gordon’s service as Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology. We hope this experience stressed the significance of preserving the records of Congress and the individual Members of Congress. The preservation and study of these records not only provides a historical understanding of the legislative process, but they also help contextualize current political issues and public policies.
During visits to classes in both the History and Political Science departments, Sarasin and Nye held lively discussions with undergraduate and graduate students on various issues, such as the challenges they faced creating public policies. In Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes’ Public History Seminar, graduate students were particularly concerned with funding of the humanities and federal agencies, like the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. The congressmen and the students considered how difficult it is for citizens to weigh the importance of healthcare and jobs in relation to funding the arts and humanities. Overall, the program was a great success in helping increase civic literacy and participation among students.
We would like to thank Ron Sarasin and Glenn Nye for donating their time and knowledge to civic education at MTSU. We look forward to continuing this program in the future!