Chuck Green Fellowship promotes civic engagement

By Herschel Nachlis

Ask Macalester alumni from the last four decades to name the professor who most inspired them, and Chuck Green, Professor of Political Science here from 1965 to 2005, looms large. Green’s unique teaching style encouraged students to become actively engaged citizens, not just critical observers, leaving a lasting influence on both his students and the institution, alumni say.

As such, when Green was set to retire, the college worked with some of his former students to help continue his legacy.

“Because Chuck was so formative in students’ lives and careers, even if [future students] could not have an experience with Chuck in the classroom they would still be able to have a Chuck Green experience,” said Professor Julie Dolan, who taught last year’s nine inaugural Chuck Green Civic Engagement Fellows.

Started with a gift of $500,000 from J.J. Allaire ’91, along with other donations, the fellowship supports rising juniors and seniors selected as Fellows to study democratic theories, organizations, and change. Moreover, each fellow is required to act as a consultant to a client organization during the spring semester and throughout the summer. Fellows receive a $4,000 stipend to continue the consultancy.

Dolan said that the fellowship’s direction was “guided in large part by Green’s students,” resulting in a peer-based, collaborative, cooperative educational model.

“The fellowship is a transformative experience,” Dolan said. “You get to know, bond with, and trust these other people you’re working with in a way that doesn’t often happen in the classroom.”

Fellows from the inaugural class universally endorsed the program.

“Working with the Chuck Green Fellowship is a big character-building experience,” said Kate Heidinger ’07, an inaugural fellow. “You learn to problem solve out in the real world…it’s so nice to have that experience outside of the classroom.”

Caleb Jonas ’07, another participant, called the Fellowship “one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my academic career.”

At a reception on Tuesday, last year’s fellows sported “Team Green” t-shirts and talked about their work over the last year. Green was in attendance, but the spotlight shone on Dolan and the fellows. Notoriously humble, Green pretended to hide behind a soda can when Political Science Chair Adrienne Christiansen acknowledged him, but his tremendous influence was ubiquitous.

Green’s legacy will undoubtedly persist as additional funding for the fellowship is sought. As many as 12 fellows will be accepted for the upcoming year, with applications due Friday, Oct. 27. This year’s Fellowship, to be taught by Professor Paul Dosh, will focus on urban political change.