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Center on Congress' digital capacity to be reviewed

The center’s mission is to help community members understand the role of Congress in our representative democracy and to teach the skills of active and informed citizenship, said Lee Hamilton, former congressional representative and director of the Center on Congress.

“We’re working in a field of fast-changing technology,” Hamilton said. “We try to develop materials that are appealing to young people, students.”

The center is working on various projects that will benefit students, faculty and community members, Hamilton said.

The Library of Congress project promotes teaching with primary sources by distributing primary sources to students and providing professional development opportunities for teachers in Indiana and the Midwest.

“It’s a complex process both in terms of how you design and put these programs together,” Hamilton said.

The center is also developing interactive multimedia materials to help students understand the effect of major congressional decisions and creating an Indiana Civic Help Index with the Indiana Bar Association.

The Index will measure how well Indiana does on key aspects of citizen participation including voting and volunteering, Hamilton said.

“We have a lot of projects underway and planned for the center,” Hamilton said. “These projects have been developed by my staff and me over a period of time, and I welcome additional insight and thoughts about how we can do it better.”

IU professor of political science Russell Hanson is on the three-person reviewing committee.

“All departments at our University undergo periodic review, and so do centers,” Hanson said. “Right now we are coordinating meeting times, gathering materials, identifying stakeholders who are invested in the Center and its future and generally getting the review underway.”

Hanson is joined by committee chair Bruce Cole, former chair of the art history department and IU Trustee and Mark Sample, vice president for Public Affairs and Governmental Relations.

“I really am not fearful or worried about anything here,” Hamilton said. “It’s a very good initiative. I think the Center on Congress plays a very important role in getting information out of the Congress.”

While Hamilton said he is not worried about the future of the Center on Congress, he said he is concerned about the future of representative democracy.

“We live in an environment politically where most of the attention is on the executive branch,” Hamilton said.

“I want to make the mission of the congress more vital and use the resources available to us more effectively and more efficiently.”

Follow reporter Hannah Alani on Twitter @HannahAlani.

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