Richard Paige — December 4 was a big day for the students in Professor Shamira Gelbman’s 2020 Census course. Final exams didn’t begin for five more days, but these projects had a bigger purpose.
The students were producing posters, brochures, infographics and a video, all of which can be downloaded from a website and disseminated to help educate the Montgomery County community and encourage participation in the 2020 Census.
December 4 was the day those materials were presented to the public in a discussion and Q&A session at Fusion 54. Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton ’00 was one of the community partners in attendance, as well as representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau, Montgomery County Health Department, League of Women Voters, Pam’s Promise, the Montgomery County Public Library, and the Carnegie Museum.
Gelbman noted the class forced the students into a different way of thinking.
“For materials going out to the public, you really have to get it right, not just good enough,” she said. “That’s an interesting aspect of this class. It’s been exciting to have a class produce things that will be used in a real way.”
After presenting his materials, Tyler Ramsey ’21 noted how the census itself presented a steep learning curve. Students had to quickly understand government functions and how the census affects them.
“It was a cool idea and concept for us to contribute,” he said. “We got hands on in creating these materials and were able to apply what we’ve learned. It’s nice to know we could make an impact on our community.”
As the students and Gelbman addressed questions about access and implementation from attendees, it was apparent that the semester-long process had impacted the students as well.
“When I was analyzing things, I wouldn’t think in my point of view, I would think in others’ points of view, what the community might think of this,” said Zach Titus ’21. “I thought we were going to learn census history and what might happen in the future. I didn’t think we would be engaged in the community. It was surprising and rewarding at the same time.”