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Founding Fathers Enter the YouTube Era

As if being dredged up from the dead after two centuries so that they could talk about writing the U.S. Constitution wasn’t enough excitement for the four Founding Fathers who participated in this year’s Constitution Day activities, they now have their own YouTube video.

The “Chat with the Founders” event has become a regular feature of IUP’s commemoration of Constitution Day every September 17, the day in 1787 that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed off on their draft of the proposed U.S. Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification.

The annual “Chat with the Founders” features four of the authors of the Constitution being interviewed by a contemporary moderator about why they structured the U.S. government the way they did, and what they hoped the Constitution would accomplish. The four Founders were Benjamin Franklin, Charles Pinckney, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. The Founders were portrayed, respectively, by three Political Science professors—David Chambers, Dighton “Mac” Fiddner. and Steven Jackson—and by History professor Joe Mannard. The moderator was Political Science professor Gwendolyn Torges.

This year, the “Founders” caught the attention of a broader audience than usual. A week before Constitution Day, the chair of Political Science, John Sitton, was contacted by a representative of the American Political Science Association (APSA), who said that they wanted to feature IUP’s “Chat with the Founders” as part of the inaugural content on a website that’s part of broader public engagement initiative. The purpose of the new program is “to promote the broad and public value of political science to journalists, policy makers, and the general public,” wrote Jennifer Diascro, director of Institutional Programs for APSA. “Highlighting the event, ‘A Casual Conversation with the Framers of the U.S. Constitution,’ would help us achieve our goal.” APSA is the premier national professional association for political scientists.

Sitton directed Diascro to Torges, who has helped to coordinate IUP’s Constitution Day activities for the past seven years.

“The folks over at APSA were hoping not only for a written description and photos of the ‘Chat with the Founders,’ but also a short video, too,” Torges said. So she contacted IUP Journalism professor and videographer Erick Lauber, who agreed to shoot and edit a short video highlighting the event.

"I enjoyed the project not because I was simply shooting and editing an interesting video, but because I really enjoyed the experience of watching history come alive,” Lauber said. “To see these normally mild-mannered professors suddenly get in character and portray the language and the deep controversies that plagued our founders was a great, educational evening no matter how you experienced it. I had no idea it could be so interesting to learn about the Constitution."

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