May 16-22 2003
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Bond, Morse, Terry win 2003 Sullivan Awards
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Music major creates programs for local schools

Tragedy spurs Muslim student’s effort to bring understanding

Finding history among the trees
Community through architecture
Moving toward a more inclusive environment
Jobe leads with faith, activism
Exploring vast worlds with Harrison Awards
Harvey blends work, study with passion for civic participation
Designing women sow success
Merging technology, music and art
From one-room school to athletic field
Persistence pays for Ukrainian student
Swimmer sets her eyes on Olympic event
Firefighting ideal job for Jefferson Scholar
Pruett’s ready to deploy, but not to leave her kids
Cancer survivor helps others

Harvey blends work, study with passion for civic participation

By Matt Kelly

After graduation, Mark Harvey will continue his work in government and public service in Washington.
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
After graduation, Mark Harvey will continue his work in government and public service in Washington.

Mark Harvey wants to solve the problem of flagging civic participation on his way to the White House. Harvey, a full-time student with a full-time job, has found a way to focus his education and work on his passion: getting people involved in the political process.

For many people, getting involved means volunteering. But Harvey, 24, notes that while volunteering is up, voting is down. Turnouts in midterm elections have decreased 20 percent since 1962, and voting in presidential contests has declined 18 percent since 1960.

“[Volunteering] is very individually based, one person doing one thing for an afternoon,” said Harvey, who graduates May 18 with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree. “A volunteer will work in a soup kitchen for an afternoon, and feels very good about himself or herself because they see people getting full.

“But it would probably do more good in the long run if they talk to their elected representatives, local newspaper editors and government officials about policies for feeding the homeless and policies for distributing food and growing food. That represents a more long-term but less tangible solution.”

He worries about how this personal volunteering affects self-governance. His solutions: more in-depth news, especially on television, and more civic education, to promote self-governing and debate.

“Democracy hinges on debate,” he said.

Harvey has examined civic participation for his BIS capstone project and has been aided by a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award and by being named the first James McInhany Thomson research assistant at the Center for Politics. He wants to continue his research, perhaps turning it into a doctoral thesis and a book.

“Mark is an exceptionally dedicated, enthusiastic and serious student, and brings a tremendous energy to his endeavors. I think this dedication stems from his significant passion, which is to make a contribution to the revitalization of civic participation in American life,” said instructor Brian Lowe, Harvey’s faculty mentor.

Mark has found that through BIS he is simultaneously able to be vigorously involved professionally in his field and to complete his degree, which in turn has informed his work.”

Harvey also performs his own volunteer civic duties. He has been director of programs at the Virginia Citizenship Institute in Falls Church, where he worked on civic education initiatives, and is an adviser to the Virginia Commission on National and Community Service, where he is founding the Virginia Civic Consortium and involving citizens in homeland security. For the consortium, he has drafted a plan for a partnership of schools, nonprofits, government agencies, corporations and media working together to revitalize participation in public affairs.

He also organized a panel discussion of volunteers for the commission on what various volunteer programs can contribute to homeland security. Active in Democratic political campaigns, he has worked to get voters registered and to the polls.

He has also read newspapers on radio programs for blind people and made and distributed sandwiches for homeless people in Washington.

He already has his dream job — research associate at the Committee of the Study of the American Electorate in Washington — but his interests explode in many directions.

“I think about possibly running for office in the future, the journalist angle, the teaching angle, the research angle,” he said. “I would like to work at the White House. Domestic Policy Council would be great. And I hope I have enough time to do all of them.”

Working merely full-time will be a relief for him. In addition to his day job in Washington, where he lives, he carried a 15-credit course load this semester, divided between Charlottesville and the Northern Virginia education center.
Harvey started college at 16 at Northern Virginia Community College, in lieu of his senior year of high school. He transferred to Old Dominion University in 1997, becoming a criminal justice major.

But his parents’ 1998 divorce sent him into the job market, where he landed a research assistance post at the Institute for Higher Education Policy while still taking distance-learning courses. He decided in 2000 to complete his degree and found a perfect fit with the BIS program. Harvey takes full advantage of its flexibility and the access it provides to talented people who have participated in politics and making history.

“They are not just instilling us with knowledge,” he said of his instructors. “They are teaching us how to ask the questions, how to think, where to go to find out the answers.”



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