back to news Jan. 27, 2020

Dean Ritter encourages civic engagement through research and education

Each week, the podcast Voices of Excellence highlights the innovative research and creative inquiry of scholars in the College of Arts and Sciences. Recently, host David Staley, associate professor of history and director of the Humanities Institute, sat down with Gretchen Ritter, executive dean and vice provost, to dive into her vision for the college and her research as an academic. 

The conversation illuminated how Ritter, also a professor of political science, expresses her regard for civic engagement through two pathways. The first is by advocating for an arts and sciences education at a land-grant institution, and the second is through her scholarly work examining women’s citizenship and democracy throughout U.S. history.

“One of the powers of the arts and sciences model, whether it be through research or education, is the ability to see and imagine the world from different points of view,” Ritter said. “That's where you get critical thinking. That's where you get innovation. That's where you get the ability to imagine the world in new ways.”

An interdisciplinary arts and sciences education, she said, gives people the skills to be lifelong learners and establishes a foundation for professional success and civic engagement. It also provides people with the creativity and flexibility to tackle constantly evolving problems — the opioid crisis, terrorism, inequality, climate change — in an ever-changing world.

Additionally, Ritter’s interest in civic membership has led her to write a book on women’s citizenship, edit another about democratization in America and even interview Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Listen to and learn about these ideas and more in Gretchen Ritter’s Voices of Excellence episode.