UTSA public policy students create Citizens’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

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(Dec. 7, 2011) -- Social work graduate students in the UTSA College of Public Policy will present a newly drafted Citizens' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities at the Great Cities Dialogue on Saturday, Dec. 10. The My City, My Voice project supports Mayor Julian Castro's SA 2020 initiative to transform San Antonio into a world-class city by 2020, while maintaining its traditional, small-town feel.

The Citizens' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities emerged from two public meetings hosted this year by the UTSA College of Public Policy as the Government Accountability/Civic Engagement element of the SA 2020 plan in which citizens endorsed the concept as an effective means of building public engagement and trust.

"Generally, the citizens of a community have a good idea of what they expect their local government to do for them, but they are often not afforded the opportunity to share that information with government officials," said Robert Ambrosino, senior lecturer in the UTSA College of Public Policy. Ambrosino teaches the Advanced Communities course in which the students are conducting the Bill of Rights research. "The Citizens' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities provides that opportunity," he said.

During the fall 2011 semester, UTSA social work graduate students spoke with area citizens and groups to gain an understanding of how people articulate their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Following the discussions, the students reviewed their findings, whittling down the information into a series of key messages. Using those overarching messages, they drafted the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities representing the voices from a broad cross-section of San Antonio citizens.

"In the Department of Social Work, we are equipping our students with the tools they need to improve society," said Ambrosino. "With an SA 2020 vision area focused on improving citizen-government relations, this project was a great opportunity. It offered our students a transformative learning experience outside the classroom."

Free and open to the public, the next Great Cities Dialogue is 8:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 10 in Buena Vista Street Building Room 1.338 at the UTSA Downtown Campus. Registration is 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., followed by a presentation/panel discussion from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

>> To learn more about UTSA's My City, My Voice project, contact Robert Ambrosino at 210-458-2026 or mycitymyvoice@gmail.com.