News and Events

2018 Seminar for Civic Education Announced

This year the Seminar for Civic Education will be held October 23-24, 2018.  The theme is “Ralph Munro’s Legacy in the International Affairs.”  Our featured keynote speaker will be Professor of International Studies David Bachman from the University of Washington's Henry M. Jackson School of International StudiesEvents are free and open to the public.  For details about the seminar, please click here.


Ralph Munro Highlighted in Seattle Times

A recent article in the Seattle Times highlighted the lifelong service of former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, including his efforts of champion disability rights.  A link to the article can be found here.  Munro's legacy in international affairs will be the theme of the 2018 Seminar for Civic Education. 



The application deadline for the 2018 Munro Summer Institute "Civil Rights in Washington from the 60s to the Present" has been extended to June 8.  The week-long program is built around the civil rights history of Washington and includes lectures on the Western campus and tours of past and contemporary movements for civil rights.  Social studies teachers and MIT students are especially encouraged to apply.  The course includes content that offers tools to satisfy the OSPI mandate for curriculum in Washington Native American Studies and will be of particular interest to teachers seeking to build multicultural capacities.  Participants will earn 2 credit hours and clock hours are available.  Tuition fees are $1,100 and scholarships of $1,000 are available for teachers.  

The updated application form can be found  here.


HUMANITIES WASHINGTON Think & Drink: The Long March – Measuring Black American Progress since 1968

Munro Director Vernon Johnson and Clyde Ford, local author, teacher, and national public speaker, will discuss what progress looks like for Black America in a panel moderated by Joy Wiggins, director of Global Peaceful Paths.  Are the last 50 years worth celebrating, or do we remain in much the same place as we were when the Kerner Report declared that “discrimination and segregation . . . now threaten the future of every American”?

When: March 21 at 7:00 pm
Where: Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

This event is part of “Since ’68,” Humanities Washington’s spring series of Think and Drink events in Bellingham, Tacoma, and Seattle.  Please note that the event is restricted to ages 21 and up. Registration is encouraged, but not required.

For more details and to register for the event, click here.


Western Students Visit Olympia with Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education

A group of Western students joined former Secretary of State and WWU Trustee, Ralph Munro, and Vernon Johnson, WWU professor of Political Science and director of the Munro Institute for Civic Education, in Olympia today to meet with legislators and other state leaders.

While in Olympia, the students had an opportunity to learn firsthand about state government and discuss policy issues with Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib, State Supreme Court Justice Debra Stephens, State Treasurer Duane Davidson, legislators, lobbyists and other state leaders and government staff.


Munro Director Interviewed for Seattle Times Article on Social Unrest and Learning

Speaking with the Seattle Times, Professor and Munro Director Vernon Johnson explains that public universities are addressing themes of diversity, equity and inclusion by incorporating social justice into courses across majors and disciplines. To read the full article, click here.


December 10:  International Human Rights Day

Professor and Munro Director Vernon Damani Johnson will be the featured guest speaker at the 2017 International Human Rights Day celebration on Sunday, December 10. He will be speaking on “The State of Human Domicile: Housing as a Human Right".

Also featured will be the annual Amnesty International Write For Rights letter writing campaign. Every year, to mark Human Rights Day, hundreds of thousands of people around the world send a letter or sign a petition on behalf of someone they’ve never met, as part of Amnesty International’s Write For Rights. These messages help convince government officials to release people imprisoned for their opinions, support human rights defenders, stop torture, commute death sentences and end other human rights abuses.

The event will be held at the YWCA from 6:00-8:00 pm and is co-sponsored by the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, Joining Hands Against Hate, the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, and Amnesty International Bellingham Chapter.

PDF icon International Human Rights Day 2017

2017 Munro Seminar, November 1-2

The fifth annual Munro Seminar for Civic Education was held on November 1-2. Keynote speaker Sarah van Gelder, co-editor of Yes! Magazine, spoke at the Majestic Ballroom in downtown Bellingham on November 1st. She told stories from her book, The Revolution Where You Live, focusing on the ways community stakeholders come together to rebuild local economies, sustain the environment, and resolve racial conflict. The following day two panels were held on Western’s campus. They focused on the role of community stakeholders and political parties in finding a middle ground in our community and political life.

To watch recordings of the presentations, click here to be redirected to the 2017 Munro Seminar page.


June 3, 2017:  Munro Director Vernon Johnson to Give Keynote Address for Kulshan CLT "Building Our Future, Building Our Community"

The Kulshan Community Land Trust invited Professor of Political Science and Munro Director Vernon Damani Johnson to give the keynote address at event on June 3, "A Changing Community, An Evolving Strategy for Creating Permanently Affordable Housing".  Permanent, affordable housing gives people in our community a step up.  The event focused on major new directions and projects at Kulshan Community Land Trust that are helping to create a community that has room for everyone.


February 23, 2017:  Ijeoma Oluo to Visit Western Washington University

Seattle Magazine has named writer and internet yeller, Ijeoma Oluo, one of Seattle's most influential people.  Oluo is Editor-at-Large at The Establishment,a media platform run and funded by women; her work on social justice has been featured in The GuardianThe StrangerThe Washington PostTIME and more. Oluo's new book So You Want To Talk About Race will be released Fall 2017 with Seal Press. You can find her yelling on twitter at

A graduate of Western Washington University (Political Science, 2006), Oluo will be on campus Thursday, February 23 to give two presentations:

Race, Gender, and Social Change

12:00 pm, Communications Facility 125

On Writing about Politics

4:00 pm, Communications Facility 120

This event is sponsored by WGSS, the Political Science Department, and the Munro Institute.


January 14, 2017:  Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights ​Conference

The 19th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Conference will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Whatcom Community College’s Syre Center (235 W. Kellogg Road). This year’s theme is “Working Passionately and Unrelentingly for Justice.” 
Two administrators from Western Washington University will keynote this year’s conference. Dr. Sabah Randhawa, president of WWU since last summer, will speak about his commitment to diversity and inclusion. Dr. Karen Dade, Associate Dean for Woodring College of Education, will give the afternoon keynote speech. For over 20 years, Dr. Dade has focused her research on combating racism in schools. She has been involved in over a dozen committees and organizations that focus on diversity and social justice.

The annual conference will also feature skill-building workshops offered by community members, including K-12 and college students and educators, anti-racist community organizers, and more. Bellingham School District will be providing continuing education hours for teachers. The schedule of workshops is available here

This event is free and open to the public of all ages, and students and educators are encouraged to attend.  Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.  Light refreshments provided throughout the morning. Food vendors will be on site with lunch options for sale.


Fall 2016

2016 Munro Seminar for Civic Education

November 14-16

The Munro Seminar for Civic Education held November 14-16, was a rousing success. Professor Danny Hayes of George Washington University treated the audience to an engaging and informative keynote, mixing humor with the very sobering message he had to deliver. One of his main take-away messages was that very little changed in terms of actual voting behavior. Several thousand votes in four rustbelt states (Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin); and lower turnout of young Latino and African American voters, seemed to have swayed the election in Donald Trump’s favor. The audience, which nearly filled the Harold an Irene Walton Theatre included an even mix of students and community members.

The panels over the next two days featured people knowledgeable in their fields and passionate about what they do. Overall the seminar reached over 250 people. Be on the lookout for videos of all presentations on this site, our Facebook page and TVW.  Details of the program can be found here!


Populism and Political Party Systems in the U.S. and Western Europe

October 5 and October 18

The Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education, the Political Science Association, and the Political Science Department wil co-host a two-part panel discussion series on the topic of populism and political systems in both the United States and Western Europe.

The Impact of the Trump and Sanders Campaigns on the Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States

October 5, 2016 (4:00-5:30 pm/Location: CF 110)


  • Todd Donovan, Whatcom County Councilman and Professor of Political Science, Political Science Department, WWU

  • Devin Burghart, Research Director, Institute for Education on Human Rights


The Brexit Vote, the Refugee Crisis and the Future of Populist Parties in Europe

October 18, 2016 (4:00-5:30 pm/Location: CF 110)


  • Amir Abedi, Chair, Political Science Department, WWU