Sunshine Center Debuts Open Government Lesson Plan at N.C. Council of Social Studies Meeting

Representatives from the Sunshine Center held a session with high school civics teachers at the North Carolina Council of Social Studies and showcased a DVD and lesson plan for use in 10th grade civics classes and high school journalism courses.  The DVD was the creation of Elon University communications students as part of a capstone experience. 

The DVD features interviews with students pondering what Sunshine Laws are and then takes viewers to Chatham County, N.C.,  where a recent case was won by citizen Gretchen Lothrop.  She sued when she was not permitted to attend a meeting of the Board of Elections where new voting machines were approved.  The suit cost Lothrop $30,000, but the end result was a nullification of the board’s decision during that closed meeting.  The case brought to light the importance of Sunshine Laws in governmental processes.

Connie Book, the associate dean in Elon University’s School of Communications, said she hopes educational efforts like this one will help increase awareness and understanding of the value of Sunshine Laws in our state. 

“Having worked on this project with students on both ends of the spectrum, the Elon student soon to be graduating and the high school student receiving the instruction, one can see their interest spike with the new knowledge that they are entitled by law access to the workings of government,” Book said.

Elon senior Jackie Lewis was one of the narrator’s of the short film on Sunshine Laws.

“I don’t think any of started the semester fully understanding the value and importance of open government,” Lewis said. “Not only did we create materials to help others learn that lesson, but we learned a valuable lesson ourselves.”

The instructional materials will be made available to high school journalism students as well.

 If you are interested in receiving a copy, please e-mail ncopengov@elon.edu.

 



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