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Our mission is to change the way students think about politics and interact with each other.
IDEAL CAMPUS, the foundation of the organization, is a chapter-based model designed for student civic engagement. Unique in its ability to provide students a place to grapple with difficult issues, CAMPUS aims to establish the paradigm for a new generation of civic discourse and civic engagement, and we believe the answers lie in our incredible students.
IDEAL MEDIA, or CherryTree, applies our philosophy to critical, thought provoking publications and podcasts, hoping to play a role in rethinking modern media. CherryTree is excited to bring a creative and innovative approach to journalism and news media.
IDEAL COMMUNITY is the third pillar of our three-tiered model. A democracy dies without its citizens, and any conscious approach to rethinking our democracy is an approach dependent on the input from our communities. IDEAL is partnering with community leaders across the country in order to design and implement civic engagement after-school, in-school, and adult programming. In everything we do, our first step is to listen; our approach to working with communities to improve civic engagement is no different.
The search for truth is a team effort—in our quest for the realization of a more just democracy, we are eager to help create a new IDEAL.
IDEAL’s goal it to change the way students think about politics and interact with each other. This work is aimed at a broader rethinking of our civic life in an effort to create a more just democracy. Our multifaceted approach includes (1) critical thinking in writing and media (2) high school and college chapters who hold on-campus civic-focused programming, among other things (3) community engagement programs. These activities are operated by three branches of the organization: CherryTree, CAMPUS, and COMMUNITY.
Civic discourse and informed discussion at the high school and college level is the foundation of IDEAL, Each chapter replicates the national model, giving our students a chance to write (Blossom), develop campus programming, and create community engagement projects.
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Founded in January 2012 by Liam Haviv, the organization was inspired by his time as a page in the United States Senate. The 112th Congress, hovering just above single digit approval ratings, was notorious for its inability to compromise and pass legislation. The promise many of the Pages made to each other upon their departure was to ensure that by the time they all returned to DC, there was a new normal--a dedicated Congress informed by its members’ differences, focused on the idea that OUR country comes first. Upon leaving, Liam’s goal was to work with students across the country, to elevate the level of civic discourse, integrity, and sensitivity, and re-create a political realm in which individuals can disagree absent ill-will and animosity. Defined by the belief everyone operates with good intentions, this vision became IDEAL.
Since IDEAL's founding, partisanship, anger, and animosity have become defining features of the modern political discourse, the media, and government. Instead of advancing a singular political ideology with defined political positions, IDEAL promotes a philosophy of elevated civility, and we invest our energy in helping students define their own political world with an acute sensitivity to others. Apathy does not seem to be the American problem; rather it seems to be a lack of understanding for those of different opinion. This is compounded by the increasing volatility of modern social media, a medium that seem to hinder our ability to slow down and engage critically in political issues. We believe change begins with the youngest generations, and our investment in students is the core tenet of the IDEAL model. IDEAL wants to change the way students think about politics and interact with each other--that seems to us, the first step in changing the world.
In six years, IDEAL has grown rapidly and steadily evolved. With chapters in fourteen high schools and colleges across the country, a community of thousands of students on both coasts and the states in between, IDEAL CAMPUS continues to expand alongside the blossoming media presence of CherryTree. Now, armed with a burgeoning COMMUNITY engagement program, IDEAL is here to stay. Our responsibility going forward is to learn, adapt, and improve each and every day.
Over the past months (and even days), students across the country have expressed sadness, frustration, and disbelief at the political climate in which they live. Strikingly, the persisting relevance of this sentence cannot be understated. IDEAL does not purport to hold any answers to today’s political problems; instead, we inspires students, and provide them the tools, to critically analyze and rethink the broad spectrum of practical and philosophical questions they face. IDEAL CAMPUS gives students a place to engage and discuss political and philosophical questions with peers, faculty, and administrators, and gives students the tools to bring positive change into their communities; CherryTree creates brilliant, critical, and honest journalism and podcasts; COMMUNITY entrusts in our citizens to point us in the right direction. Our holistic approach is the core of the IDEAL model, but it is the dedicated members nationwide, and their steadfast commitment to creating a more just democracy, that serves as the fuel powering our search for a new IDEAL.
“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something...We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely....We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
Professor of Bioethics and Moral & Political Theory at Johns Hopkins University
Dean of Georgetown College at Georgetown University; Professor of History
PhD, Johns Hopkins University;
Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University
Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University
Professor at Baltimore Hebrew University, Johns Hopkins University
Director of Educator Programs, Thomas R. Brown Foundation
Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University
Professor and Chair of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University
P.O. Box 488o
Baltimore, MD 21211
United States of America
Interested in starting your own IDEAL chapter? Have questions about donating to IDEAL? Have comments about the content on the site? Feel free to send a message and we will get back to your as soon as possible!