FAYETTE, IOWA (March 2, 2007) -Dr. Shelby Kaura, an assistant professor at Upper Iowa University's Des Moines Center, turned UIU's recent legislative reception into a true learning experience for her class.
The event was held at the Des Moines Botanical Center on Wednesday, Feb. 25 to give UIU alumni, faculty, staff and students the chance to meet with their elected officials in an informal setting and have a conversation about concerns regarding education issues.
Kaura teaches Social Welfare Policies and Programs, a required course for the Human Services degree program and an optional course for Public Administration. When Kaura received the invite for the reception, she thought it would be a perfect opportunity for her students to get first-hand knowledge about what they had been discussing in class. "Each time the class met, we followed the current legislative docket and would discuss the policies and events it was working on," she said.
As an incentive to participate, Kaura made the final exam open book and added five bonus points for any student who came to the reception and got the name, district and party affiliation of three legislators who were in attendance. "The students were not allowed to just accost the representatives but had to engage in conversation with them about events discussed in class or the policies that a particular legislator was involved in," said Kaura. "The caveat was the exam had to be handed to me personally before they left (the reception)."
Kaura's entire class of 17 students participated and received credit on their exams. "I was really surprised at how they all went for it," she said. "They took advantage of a great opportunity and seemed to really enjoy talking to our State's policymakers."
Approximately 150 people attended Upper Iowa University's reception. In addition to the students, 57 legislators, including President of the Senate Jack Kibbie, Speaker of the House Pat Murphy, and Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley attended, as well as several UIU trustees, a number of staff and faculty members, and more than a dozen Upper Iowa alumni.
"Obviously, we are pleased with the turnout," said UIU President Alan G. Walker. "This annual event is an important opportunity for our university community to interact with elected leaders on important topics, such as the need for continued funding to the Iowa Tuition Grant and the important role Upper Iowa plays in strengthening Iowa's economy by educating people who are committed to working and living here." Walker added that attendance at the event has grown each year.
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