March 30, 2007
The Watson Institute for International Studies
Nation’s High School Students Take Their Message to State Capitols
By the end of the current school year, high school students in eight states will have visited their state capitols to present their opinions on global issues directly to elected officials and civic leaders. These state house visits are part of the ninth annual Capitol Forum on America’s Future, an initiative of the Choices Program at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — On Monday, April 2, 2007, Rhode Island high school students will convene at the Rhode Island State House to discuss global issues with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Rep James Langevin, former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee and other elected officials and civic leaders.
Their visit and similar visits by high school students in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Washington and West Virginia are part of the ninth annual Capitol Forum on America’s Future, an initiative of the Choices for the 21st Century Education Program at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.
Students will arrive for their meetings with more than opinions. As part of the Capitol Forum program, they have been studying and discussing various positions on global issues – even, on occasion, advocating positions that are opposed to their own positions – to better understand options and their consequences.
Students are discussing such global issues as international security, climate change, immigration, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and trade with their state and federal representatives. In each state, the program is sponsored by a state-based organization that has an interest in international youth civic engagement, and by the local office of the secretary of state
“Students need the knowledge and skills to understand these important issues from a range of perspectives and to form their own opinions,” said Susan Graseck, director of the Choices Program. “It is their future that we are shaping today, and they deserve the opportunity to be a part of the discussion.”
The Capitol Forum program is a civic education initiative designed to give high school students a voice in public consideration of current international issues. The program, run on a statewide basis, involves students both within the social studies classroom and beyond the classroom at their state capitol. The forum seeks to raise awareness of critical international issues and to help develop a foundation for long-term civic engagement.
“With today’s vast improvements in our ability to communicate electronically, American students should be at the forefront of understanding what’s happening in all parts of the globe,” said former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, now a visiting fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute. “The Capitol Forum is an important part of fostering that understanding, encouraging students’ interaction with different peoples around the world.”
About the Choices Program
Choices for the 21st Century Education Program (www.choices.edu) an educational outreach program of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Through its curricular resources, professional development programs and special projects, “Choices” reaches high school students and teachers in more than a third of American high schools.
Editors: Information about local events is available
through the Brown Office of Media Relations at
Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. Susan Graseck and others from the Watson Institute are available to discuss the program.
For more information, call the Office of Media Relations at