The Bob Graham Center for Public Service, housed at the University of Florida in Gainesville, is a community of students, scholars and citizens who share a commitment to training the next generation of public and private sector leaders for Florida, the United States and the international community. To continue his legacy of leadership, former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham founded the center to further his dedication to the idea that citizens need a firm grounding in democratic government to discharge their rights and responsibilities. Graham visits the center frequently, introducing and interviewing speakers for the public programming and meeting with and hosting seminars for center students.
The center, located in Pugh Hall on the University of Florida campus, held its grand opening in March 2008.
The Bob Graham Center's mission includes encouraging discussion and analysis of current issues that affect citizens locally, nationally and globally. The Center regularly hosts public events, featuring to date: seven former state governors, four sitting or former United States senators, four sitting or former United States congressmen, three former national party chairmen, one former Secretary of State, one former surpreme court justice and four former ambassadors, as well as numerous journalists, scholars and activists. These events are free and open to the public and most feature audience question-and-answer sessions. Most events are streamed live and archived on the Center’s website.
The Bob Graham Center provides University of Florida students with the opportunity to combine academic coursework and credentials with a living curriculum of internships and real-world case studies. The Center offers a Public Leadership Minor, an interdisciplinary program for undergraduates interested in careers in the public and private sectors. The Minor is designed to complement a variety of majors, including those in the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, journalism and business. Students pursuing the Minor participate in workshops, seminars and the Center’s public programming, and an internship is required. Students have numerous opportunities to get involved in public service projects, such as serving on the Public Service Council or participating in the Civic Polling or Civic Library projects.
The Knight Foundation Grant
In December 2010, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded a three-year, three-million dollar grant to the Bob Graham Center to support its pioneering approach to prepare University of Florida (UF) students to be informed, skilled and engaged citizens. There are five distinct categories of activities (products) in the three-year Knight Grant. They are:Knight Effective Citizenship Fellows - the intent is to assemble a group of visiting scholars to collaborate with scholars at UF and other universities, as well as experts and advocates for participatory citizenship from other sectors;
Develop an interactive online citizenship course to be tested at UF and brought to national audiences;
Build and implement an electronic “Civil Debate Wall” to provide a forum for students and citizens in Gainesville to engage in civil and public discussion on current issues;
Utilize and study new social media tools to understand how these technologies can develop informed, skilled, and engaged citizens; and
Evaluate experiential programs and study civic participation behavior of students and alumni
The Bob Graham Center Civic Library
The Civic Library highlights grass-root efforts by citizens and organizations advocating on behalf of policy or political change at any level of government. The case studies developed for the Civic Library draw upon journalistic and academic accounts and interviews with key participants. They describe the actual experiences of individual citizens or groups who have sought to influence the actions and decisions of governments in Florida and elsewhere. Issues on the local, state, national and international stage are examined by graduate students and professors from all disciplines.
Bob Graham Center case studies are available for use by teachers at the secondary and higher education levels and individuals or organizations who are interested in the topics discussed in the cases.
The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship
The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is a partnership between the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida and the Bob Graham Center. Established in 2007 by formal agreement between the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida, the Joint Center develops initiatives intended to strengthen civics education and improve the condition of Florida's civic health.
The Bob Graham Center’s Civil Debate Wall—popularly known as "The Wall"—is a series of interconnected touch-screen devices that allow students, teachers and citizens to share ideas and solutions to some of the most pressing political questions facing the nation. Recently installed at the University of Florida’s Pugh Hall, home of the Bob Graham Center, The Wall operates in real time and can be synchronized to smart phones and its own website—www.civildebatewall.com.