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Last modified: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Marjorie Randon Hershey

Professor of Political Science
Department of Political Science
College of Arts and Sciences
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU faculty, 1974
B.A., University of Michigan, 1966
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1972

"Margie Hershey has inspired generations of students to become active citizens, to take part in community life, and to use knowledge gained in the classroom to engage the world." --Jack Bielasiak, Interim Chair of the Department of Political Science

Marjorie Hershey

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

Marjorie Hershey

Print-Quality Photo

Marjorie Hershey has earned consistent praise and numerous awards from her peers during her 36 years as a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University Bloomington. But some of the most telling comments about Hershey come from students.

"Professor Hershey is easily the best professor I have had in my three-and-a-half years at IU," says one. "She is warm, understanding, sympathetic to our needs -- and truly shows that she cares about each of our projects. How to improve this course? Don't let Professor Hershey retire until she turns 90."

Hershey has long incorporated service learning in her courses, including an environmental policy course that she began teaching in 1974 and the two-semester capstone course for IU Bloomington's Leadership, Ethics, and Social Action (LESA) program. She also has modeled civic engagement through work with the Girl Scouts, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, and other organizations.

A specialist in American political behavior, including political parties, interest groups, and social movements, Hershey has dedicated her professional and personal life to bridging the gaps between research, teaching, and service, says Jack Bielasiak, interim chair of the Department of Political Science.

"Margie Hershey has inspired generations of students to become active citizens, to take part in community life, and to use knowledge gained in the classroom to engage the world," Bielasiak writes. "She has been a catalyst for service learning for decades, and her professional and personal dedication to the local community serves as the best role model for our students."

Hershey became an advisory board member for the LESA academic minor program at its inception in 2002. When she became its director in 2007, she made several changes, including teaching both semesters of the capstone course, ensuring that students meet regularly with faculty mentors and community partners, and making the seminar itself a model of a program that builds social capital.

Her philosophy is that service learning must be a form of active learning in which service is linked to academic understanding and meaningful engagement, as opposed to "drive-by volunteerism" that focuses on counting up hours of community service.

"Service learning and advocacy teach students about the substance of community issues and help them learn the language of public discussion," Hershey writes. "By engaging in service and advocacy, students can develop leadership and negotiation skills; they can enhance their ability to assess a situation and to determine not just the needs of a group, but also the resources on which the group can build."

Students from the LESA capstone course say Hershey patiently counsels and supports them as they develop and carry out sustainable projects that can make a long-term difference in the community. Examples include establishing community gardens and cooperative housing, arranging an exchange program with a school in Kenya, and teaching a self-portraiture workshop at Girls Inc.

"Each week Margie Hershey would welcome the LESA students in our class with a warm attitude and cookies," says Jennifer Jameson, whose 2008 project involved collecting oral histories and producing a one-hour radio documentary on homelessness in Bloomington. "She fostered such wonderful discussion and really helped us realize our strengths and our capability in helping the community."

An IU Bloomington faculty member since 1974, Hershey is the author of three books and dozens of chapters and journal articles, as well as a frequent expert source for news stories on politics and elections. Her numerous teaching honors include the IU School of Continuing Studies' Award for Teaching Excellence, the College of Arts and Sciences Trustees' Teaching Award (four times), and the AMOCO Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching.