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Where on Earth is your favorite outdoor destination? You let us know on Earth Day!

Monday, April 22nd was Earth Day and Penn State Brandywine's Laboratory for Civic Engagement invited YOU to celebrate with us! On this day, all students, alumni, faculty and staff members were encouraged to get involved by answering the question, "Where on Earth is your favorite outdoor destination?" via Twitter, with the hashtag #PSUEarthDay in the tweet when answering. All tweets were gathered at the end of the day and posted in the Storify below.

This semester, the students in Dr. Laura Guertin's ERM 210 course, Environmental Factors and Their Effect on Your Food Supply, have learned about a range of topics from The Farm Bill to the Food Corps, to climate change and conservation, to buy fresh and buy local.  Each class period, the students begin with an overview of a current event relating to food issues, challenges, and policies.  One local story really "hit home" for the students, and the class decided to take their education to the next level and be advocates for a local children's garden under the threat of closure.

The students listened to the WHYY Newsworks audio story titled Camden Children's Garden plugs along while fighting eviction.  The students were surprised to hear that such a valuable resource, both for education and awareness of healthy foods, was going to be shut down for "economic development" reasons.  Each student pitched in and wrote 33 letters that were sent to the Mayor of Camden, asking her to step in and allow the Camden Children's Garden to continue.  The students are hopeful that, although being from outside of the Camden area, the Mayor will see that even those at a distance realize the significant impact a garden can have on a child and the overall health of the city of Camden.

To show your support to have the garden remain open, please visit the Save the Camden Children's Garden website for information on how you can help.


An announcement from Dr. Julie Gallagher

History 21 Guest lecturer on U.S. global leadership and foreign policy:

The Cold War and Today by Dr. James Holmes Armstead, Jr.


Date:  Monday, March 25, 2013

Where:  113 Main Building

Time:  10:30-11:20


Dr. James Holmes Armstead is a retired professor of Strategy and International Law from the US Naval War College. Professor Armstead has served on faculties at Stanford University, the US Naval Postgraduate School, the Virginia Military Institute, and he has lectured at senior staff colleges in Poland, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, and Malawi as well as the US Army War College, and the South African Military Academy.  Dr. Armstead has participated in negotiations enlarging NATO with the accession of Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Albania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. And he has assisted in drafting constitutional reforms in Montenegro, South Africa, Poland, the Congo, and Lithuania. 


The recipient of three honorary doctorates, Dr. Armstead served in the United Nations Secretariat where he was the English language editor of the Treaty of Rome which created the International Criminal Court at the Hague, and he has served on missions with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe as an international election observer in Belarus, the Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Armstead also served as an Armor, JAG and Civil Affairs Officer in the United States Army, the US Army Reserves and National Guard in staff and command assignments from battalion to corps level eventually serving as a special aide to the Secretary of the Army and he continues as a volunteer in the Virginia State Militia involved in operations, training, JAG, and Inspector General assignments.

This speaker is sponsored by the Laboratory for Civic Engagement

The Walden School of Media, PA, hosted an outstanding event at Penn State Brandywine, with the assistance of the Fair Trade TrailBlazers and Laboratory for Civic Engagement.  Each Walden School student (grades K-8) created a piece of art with a Fair Trade theme.  The students brought their pieces of art to Penn State Brandywine for an art show and fundraiser for Fresh Artists, a Philadelphia organization that works to get art supplies into the hands of children.  All of the artwork was sold, and The Walden School raised $375 for Fresh Artists!  Read the following posts on the Fair Trade TrailBlazers website to learn more.

Upcoming Event: Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale for Fresh Artists (blog post)

The Walden School's Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale (blog post)


The following students traveled from Wednesday, October 31, to Sunday, November 4 to attend the National Conference on Student Leadership in Lake Buena Vista, Florida with the Office of Student Affairs. 

Pawel Zwierzchowski, Douglas Layer, Theresa Malatesta, Linda Truong, Justin Deloatch, Lauren Lomas 

Since 1978, the National Conference on Student Leadership has equipped collegiate student leaders and their advisors with comprehensive tools to achieve their leadership potential and positively impact their campuses and communities through practical, focused training and opportunities to collaborate with other student leaders. 

Visit the Fair Trade TrailBlazer's website for a summary about Our second Alta Gracia t-shirt swap, benefitting Planet Aid.

Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

Although Penn State Brandywine does not have a football team and only some members of the campus community gathered on September 22 at the Penn State vs. Temple University game at University Park, that does not mean the Brandywine campus students, staff, and faculty were not supportive of the efforts to assist young victims of sexual assault. 

On Friday, September 21, Penn State Brandywine held its own Blue Out, showing our support for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) with our own sea of blue.  The campus community was also encouraged post on our campus Facebook wall and tweet your support to demonstrate what "WE ARE" can mean.

PCAR's local affiliate, Delaware County Women Against Rape (WAR), set up an information table next to our blue ribbon display to speak with people and hand out brochures.  Donations were accepted in exchange for a blue ribbon to wear, and the campus volunteer club We Are Penn State MADE (Making A Difference Everyday) raised $96 for WAR.


Paper Plate Advocacy Project

The entire Penn State Brandywine community came together to demonstrate our Constitutional right on Constitution Day to advocate for hunger relief in the Delaware Valley.

On Monday, September 17, from 11AM to 1:20PM in the Tomezsko Building Lounge and Commons Patio, we encouraged everyone to come and write their hunger message on a paper plate we provided.  We took photos of students, staff and faculty with their paper plates to post the photo on Philabundance's Facebook page.  Then, we collected all of the plates and sent them to Philabundance, who will send them to the governor of Pennsylvania.

Why write on plates, you ask?  Philabundance has a generous donor that will match each plate with a meal donation.  As 900,000 people in the Delaware Valley are at risk of hunger, every meal helps.

Our goal was to get 225 plates completed, in honor of the Constitution's 225th anniversary.  We surpassed our goal and posted messages on 291 plates!  That is 291 meals, and 291 voices going to Harrisburg.

You can read more about the Paper Plate Advocacy Project and Hunger Action Month at Philabundance's website.  This event was organized by the campus volunteer club We Are Penn State M.A.D.E. (Making A Difference Everyday).

The Arms Trade Treaty - where should we stand?

The United Nations - the Arms Trade Treaty - and the United States being the only country to vote against it. This is indeed a complicated issue and challenge.

Is international shaming enough to discourage illicit trade? Should the United States support the treaty?  

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.

Is the past coming back to our school systems?

Segregation - it is not just from the 1960's, it is happening today in school districts that have access to varying resources.

Should the wealth of a community determine access to educational opportunities?  

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.

Morality and machines

Who will be held responsible for a machine's missteps?

Drones, cars that drive and park themselves, ... each are examples of automated technology existing and operating in society.  But as we all know, technology does not always work in the ways we want it to.

Can machines be programmed to know right from wrong?  

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.

#bwtakeson moves to Google+!

With #bwtakeson #29 and moving forward, our weekly social media challenges will not only continue on Twitter but are also moving to Google+, making it easier for anyone to comment on our postings.

The Laboratory for Civic Engagement "takes on" challenging topics for critical thinking, thoughtful evaluation, and engaging discussion. Each week in Twitter, and now in Google+, we post a question we hope you will respond to in Twitter with the hashtag #bwtakeson, in the comment field in Google+, in conversations with family and friends, or through personal reflection.

Find us on Twitter:
Find us on Google+:

You can read a summary of our #bwtakeson postings in Storify from 2012 and 2011.

Be sure to read the campus article and Brandywine Blog entry detailing more about this event.

On May 5, from the office of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Mayor Nutter and students participated in a conference call with President Obama and national leaders to discuss the impact of raising federal student loan interest rates. The sixteen participating students were from Temple University, Lincoln University, Community College of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State Brandywine.

Brandywine sophomores Tara Landis, Samantha Golay and Chris Kramer were among the local college students selected for this opportunity. Of the sixteen students, only two students actually spoke to the President, one of the two being Penn State Brandywine's Chris Kramer.

View the news story on the NBC 10 website: LINK

Are floating micro-nations an innovative or self-serving solution?

The founder of PayPal is investing $1.25 million in the creation of start-up countries, floating far offshore, outside the legal boundaries of any country.  He reports that these freestanding countries will secure the future of mankind on Earth and allow for the experimentation of new government structures.

What are your thoughts about the establishment of floating micro-countries?  

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.
Each semester, Professor Karrie Bowen allows one of her classes to select a cause to research and drum up support for on campus through an awareness campaign.  On April 25, Professor Bowen's students gathered during common hour at the campus gazebo for an event titled "Birth Control - What Can You Afford?" to share information and protest the decision by insurance companies to deny coverage of birth control to patients.

Six Words for Planet Earth

Re-blogged from the Environmental Inquiry Program website at Penn State Brandywine

Have you heard of six-word essays, also known as flash fiction? It is a unique way of writing that focuses on using only six words to share a meaningful story or idea. The idea of very short stories is thriving as people share their stories via social networks. A six-word essay on Planet Earth is a great way to celebrate the environment as we celebrate Earth Day!

In conjunction with the Laboratory for Civic Engagement, the Environmental Inquiry program at Penn State Brandywine, we asked all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends from all Penn State campuses and beyond Penn State to submit a thoughtful/creative/inspiring string of six words about the Earth!  All submissions were posted in the Penn State Brandywine Environmental Inquiry Twitter account with the hashtag #psubw6words and placed in Storify for an archive of our six words for 2012.

Click "Continue reading Six Words for Planet Earth" below to view the compiled tweets!

Be sure to read this excellent article on The Brandywine Blog, written by student and Girl Scout troop leader Jennifer Santangelo (LINK)

Letters written about Girl Scouting are now enclosed in a time capsule!

thumb_100.gif On March 13, during Girl Scout Week and the day after the 100th birthday of Girl Scouting, Penn State Brandywine sealed its Girl Scout Time Capsule, an air-tight, water-tight box not to be opened for 25 years.  In this box are photos of Girl Scouts and letters written by former and current Scouts and troop leaders.  In addition to the faculty on campus that contributed letters about their Scouting experiences, the time capsule has letters written by the following Daisy, Brownie, Junior, and Cadette troops:

  • Junior Troop 57090 form Media Elementary School
  • Daisy Troop 4973 from Lionville Elementary & SS Philip & James Schools (Pickering Valley Service Unit)
  • Junior Troop 4002 from Lionville Elementary & Kimberton Waldorf Schools (Pickering Valley Service Unit)
  • Brownie Troop 4430 from Pocopson Elementary School
  • Junior Troop 4348 from Pocopson Elementary School
  • Troop 5341 from Springton Lake Middle School

Tune back in during March 2037 to see our snapshot of Girl Scouting!

Posting online anonymously

Should people be allowed to post online anonymously?

Mountain Grove, Missouri, is no longer a town that gathers at the local diner for coffee and gossip in the mornings. Instead, the town gossip is now being aired online where residents can post their "news" anonymously.  

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.

Drug testing welfare applicants

Should welfare applicants undergo drug testing before receiving benefits?

In June 2011, Florida's Governor Rick Scott signed a bill requiring all welfare applicants in Florida to undergo drug testing before receiving government assistance. Arguments suggest that passing this bill only adds to the stereotype that all welfare applicants are a group of drug abusers. However, others argue that the drug testing acts as a safety net for tax-payers money. 

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.

Renewable energy production tax credit

Should Congress extend the renewable energy production tax credit, and if so, how should it be funded?

Offshore wind farms are appearing off coastlines across the globe, especially off both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. From European nations to the east coast of the United States, the promise of a clean energy source fueled by wind power has a high financial cost.

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.
The beginning of the Spring 2012 semester marks the return of We Are Penn State M.A.D.E. (Making A Difference Everyday).  This campus volunteer club looks forward to allowing all members to become leaders in volunteering and community-based activities year-round.

At the club's first meeting on January 19, the students cut coupons to support the campus efforts for the Overseas Coupon Program.  This year, the campus will be sending all manufacturer coupons to the U.A. Army base in Vilseck, Germany.  In just one common hour session, the students cut $2,193.36 worth of coupons!  Stay tuned for more events and activities by M.A.D.E.


MLK Day 2012

Penn State Brandywine is celebrating MLK Day as a week of lectures and service opportunities.  THON/American Red Cross, Knittany Lion Needleworks, We Are Penn State M.A.D.E., the Office of Student Affairs, and the Laboratory for Civic Engagement are all coming together to organize and lead activities for the campus.  The week of events serves to remind everyone that although MLK Day is a "day on, not a day off," it is important to serve all throughout the year.


What #40dollars Means to Americans

It all started with a simple tweet on December 20 by the @WhiteHouse:

Screen shot 2011-12-21 at 8.25.18 AM.png
"House Republicans are refusing to extend the payroll tax cut, which expires on December 31. If it does, taxes will go up for 160 million working Americans... Ending the payroll tax cut will cost the typical family making $50,000 a year about $1,000 a year, which is a lot of money for struggling families... That $1,000 a year works out to about $40 a paycheck that families won't have to spend or save. " (The White House blog

The White House is making an impressive use of social media to allow everyone to have their voice heard on this issue.  Citizens can post a comment on their blog, tweet with the hashtag #40dollars, post on Facebook, and upload a video on YouTube.  The White House has also created a Storify of the tweets (view in the expanded version of this post).

Do you have a story to add to the national voice?  What does $40/week mean to you?  Visit to learn how you can contribute to the conversation.

Cyberbullying and the First Amendment

Can/should cyberbullying be protected by the First Amendment?

Cyberbullying is growing on social media websites among children, pre-teens, and teenagers.  In November 2010, Albany County in New York passed legislation that makes cyberbullying a misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine or up to a year in prison.

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.

Operation Military Haiku

The Laboratory for Civic Engagement asked students/faculty/staff/alumni/friends/etc. to write a haiku as a tribute to our active and retired military personnel. Operation Military Haiku was a  way for everyone to express their creativity in a small and simple project that would have a powerful impact (as there was a meeting of Veterans on the campus November 2).

The submitted haiku were written on notecards and placed on display from the end of October through Veterans Day (November 11).  You can read the haiku collection in this PDF file.

Display of military-themed haiku in Tomezsko Building

Banned Websites Awareness Day

Should schools filter access to educational and social websites?

September 28, the American Association of School Librarians dedicated a day to promote awareness of educational and social websites that are banned from computers in K-12 classrooms.

View the resources and join the discussion on our Civic Issues in a Minute website.

2011 Constitution Day

Image from the National Constitution Center: Constitution Day website

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the United States Constitution. As September 17 fell on a Saturday in 2011, the Penn State Brandywine campus celebrated Constitution Day on Friday, September 16.

With an open mic set up in the Vairo Amphitheater, students were provided the following introduction and question to discuss:

Summer 2011 saw flash mobs organized by Philadelphia teenagers through social media. The London riots were said to be fueled by incitements to violence on Twitter. On August 11, San Francisco's BART shut down cell phone signals in its downtown subway stations to prevent an organized disruption to rush hour service. Is blocking access to social media a violation of free speech, or necessary for safety and security?

Participant Jennifer Santangelo wrote a summary of the event for the campus website. The conversation continues on the Civic Issues in a Minute website. Penn State students and faculty are encouraged to post their thoughts on the embedded VoiceThread.