The David Mathews Center for Civic Life is pleased to announce our Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Call for Proposals for the 2019-20 academic year!

Through this program, we are honored to work with faculty and students from communities across the state. These individuals dedicate their time to working alongside citizens who work to improve their communities for everyone. We are equally indebted to these community partners who welcome students and faculty into their hometowns to practice immersive civic learning* together.

Partnering Alabama communities offer a unique, experiential learning opportunity to young people who may not have practiced civic engagement beyond voting – or who may even feel their vote does not count. Indeed, one key finding from the 2015 Alabama Civic Health Index is that “Alabamians age 30 and over are nearly twice as likely as 18–29 year olds to vote in national (67.2% vs. 40.3%) and local (67.7% vs. 38.5%) elections.” As one intern put it following their experience, “I now see how the decisions of a City Council have concrete effects all the way up to someone’s front doorstep.” It is this kind of learning, and this shift in mindset, that we believe has a lasting effect on a commitment to be part of one’s community, wherever students make their homes.   

*Immersive civic learning is characterized by active, continuous participation in both formal and informal civic spaces, and through personal experiences with a community and its individuals.

Since the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program (JOIP) began in 2008, the DMC has partnered with 12 of Alabama’s colleges and universities, nearly 210 students, and communities across the state to create unique community-based learning experiences. These experiences provide college students the opportunity to collaborate with community members in addressing common concerns through the use of deliberative practices. Each internship is a unique partnership between the DMC, an institution of higher education, and a community partner. Download the Request for Proposals (RFP) here.

Student Eligibility:

We believe students can apply an immersive civic learning experience to any field of study. Our interns come from fields of study including economics, history, education, social work, sociology, medicine, political science, communications, English, peace studies, journalism, and foreign language. Faculty mentors interviewing potential interns should request a resume and a statement of purpose.

For information on recent partner projects, visit Auburn University’s Living Democracy, student-authored articles published on the Mathews Center blog from Walker and Perry Counties, and Walker County’s Daily Mountain Eagle series. Learn more about Mrs. Jean O’Connor-Snyder’s legacy here. To read about ongoing partnerships and their unique civic engagement projects, read this update from the 2018-19 cycle.

To Apply:

Interested faculty should submit a proposal to DMC internship coordinator Rebecca Cleveland at The deadline to submit a proposal is Tuesday, April 30, 2019, 5 p.m. CST. Interested students at one of our participating institutions should contact the faculty mentor (scroll down). We encourage interested students at an institution of higher education not on the current list to identify a potential faculty mentor. Please feel free to reach out to Rebecca with any questions.

Faculty Mentors & Current Participating Institutions:

The University of Alabama’s New College: John Miller

The University of Alabama’s Honors College

Troy University: Jonathan Cellon and Lauren Cochran

Southern Union State Community College: Robin Brown and Dr. Pam Horn

Auburn University’s Living Democracy: Dr. Mark Wilson and Professor Nan Fairley

Spring Hill College’s Foley Community Service Center: Dr. Erik Goldschmidt

Alabama A&M University: Ms. Monica Clarke

University of Montevallo: Dr. Hollie Cost

– Written by Rebecca Cleveland, Program Director