Democracy Matters

James Madison University Center for Civic Engagement

Democracy Matters is a podcast to educate and inspire people to address public issues and cultivate a just and inclusive democracy.


Democracy Matters

Democracy Matters is a podcast to educate and inspire people to address public issues and cultivate a just and inclusive democracy. Going beyond the headlines, each episode features an in-depth conversation with academics, practitioners, students, policymakers, and advocates who are using their knowledge and skills to strengthen democracy and create opportunities for more informed participation in civic life. Democracy Matters is hosted by Abe Goldberg and Carah Ong Whaley of the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement at James Madison University.

Featured Guests

Where To Start

Plan, Do, Check and Prove: Educating for Democracy on Campuses and Beyond

In this episode, we talk with Ian Simmons, the Founder and President of the Foundation for Civic Leadership and a member of the Madison Center's advisory board, about best practices and promising projects for enhancing democracy.

Beyond the Lens: Justice Through Photography

From Richmond to the West Bank, from Kentucky to Tanzania, photography has the potential to communicate lived experiences and complex social issues to those in power. In this episode, we talk with internationally acclaimed photographer Wendy Ewald about her work in Virginia and beyond using photography as a collaborative process to strengthen democracy. Ewald has spent more than 40 years collaborating with children, families, and teachers all over the world. In her work, she encourages her collaborators to use cameras (as well as using the camera herself) to record themselves, their families and their communities, and to articulate their fantasies and dreams. Ewald often has them mark or write on her own negatives, thereby challenging the concept of who actually makes an image. Wendy's website Literacy and Justice through Photography JMU's Center for Creative Inquiry (formerly known as Institute for Visual Studies)

Beware the Shrinking Imagination!

Two questions animate our work: What if? How so? The work of imagining is something we should take very seriously in civic engagement. It's difficult to engage our senses in this difficult and academic work and the shrinking imagination stifles our work. Professor Tim Eatman, Dean of the Honors Living-Learning Community and Associate Professor of Urban Education in the College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University, discusses the five senses to engage in the work of imagining: hope, history, passion empathy, planning.

Meet The Hosts

Abe Goldberg

Co-Host, Executive Director

Abraham Goldberg is the Executive Director of the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement and an Associate Professor of Political Science at JMU. Prior to arriving at JMU in 2017, he was the Director of the Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Abe recently co-authored a chapter in Democracy, Civic Engagement, and Citizenship in Higher Education: Reclaiming Our Civic Purpose with JMU President Jonathan Alger. He also published an article in the eJournal of Public Affairs arguing that colleges and universities can combat political inequality if civic education is prioritized, as well as the South Carolina Civic Health Index.

Carah Ong Whaley

Co-Host, Associate Director

Carah works in partnership with students, faculty, staff and community partners to embed civic learning and democratic engagement across campus through curricular and co-curricular programming. Carah has developed innovative pedagogy melding scholarship and experiential learning to teach courses on civic engagement, campaigns and elections, and state and local politics. At the heart of her research interests is a desire to understand and illuminate how the interactions of political actors and institutions structure public access and participation in policy- and decision-making processes. Carah holds a PhD in American Government and an MA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.

Where To Listen

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