Professor Promotes Student Activism in St. Joseph

Published 09/17 2012 05:40PM

Updated 09/17 2012 09:01PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Stories of student groups standing together as champions for change date back many decades in the United States.

On Constitution Day 2012, the role of student activism took the main stage at Missouri Western State University.

The university hosted guest speaker Dr. Angus Johnston.

Johnston's research has examined the evolution of student activism, culminating in the Occupy movement in New York.

"Student activism is really any organizing that students do either on their own behalf or on behalf of other causes they are interested in," said Dr. Johnston. 

Dr. Johnston hopes students will use their voice to incite changes, even if on a small scale.

"Go out and win," he said. "Go out and find some project where you can get a victory and show students that there is a possiblity to make change. Once students find they can make change, they're going to flock to that project."

On the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, Dr. Johnston and professors hope their students will use history as motivation to be active citizens.

"They matter and their voices matter in politics and there are things they can do to see the changes that they want to have happen in society occur," said Dr. Edwin Taylor, Missouri Western State University.

Dr. Taylor points out that the Constitution has changed over the years and often young people have led the way.

"Students have been a driving force in many of the changes that have happened in society - to the Civil Rights movement, women's liberation and many others. It's important to remind students that they're important to politics," added Dr. Taylor.

Students interested in being a part of that process at Missouri Western had an opportunity on Constitution Day to attend workshops with Dr. Johnston. He offered organizational strategies for campus groups.

Dr. Johnston is a historian at the City University of New York. His work can be viewed on his blog,

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