September 6th, 2012

Trying to Make Sense of Our Democracy:

Political Cartoonist Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher has been an IRC Artist-In-Residence for the last 7 years. With generous support from the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Sondheim Scholars Program and the Office of Institutional Advancement, KAL has returned to the IRC to work exclusively on creating, a website and blog built for teenagers to engage in the discussion of American politics.

The blog is staffed by fifteen UMBC students, most of who are Sondheim Scholars or Media and Communication Studies majors. Each student makes at least one post a week, insuring that the blog is regularly updated. KAL works as editor and mentor to the students, working with them one-on-one each week as they develop their post. They meet regularly to discuss events, look at the site’s current statistics, and make plans for the coming weeks. It’s been a tremendous experience for the students learning how to operate a large daily news aggregator blog. has successfully engaged readers not only on campus but all over the world. Over the course of the last year created 1,900 posts and received over 140,000 unique visits from 147 countries.

Throughout the spring, the IRC conducted reviews and future planning sessions for USDemocrazy. The process led to a 3-4 year strategic plan and commitments for funding for next year. More importantly, the process created more interest on campus for the site with more groups wanting to partner in the effort.

Last year, the IRC developed a strategic plan for growing the blog’s regional and national presence. This spring and summer, we completed a major redesign of the site to make it more attractive to young readers and to emphasize its seriousness without losing its sense of humor.

Related to his work on USDemocrazy, Kal has been appointed to the Maryland State Department of Education’s Social Studies Advisory Council that will look at how social studies is taught in middle and high schools. Additionally, Kal acts as an “Ambassador” for UMBC and regularly gives talks and presentations in Maryland and beyond. Besides being one of the keynotes at Baltimore TechNite, Kal gave talks at PIXAR studios, and a TED-X talk in the UK. He also works with the US State Department and has given talks in Russia, Jordan, Lebanon, Italy, and Switzerland. He has a touring exhibition of his political cartoons most recently on display at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.

Production Notes
Project Director: Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher
Information Design: Bonnie Crawford, Veronica Noone
Web Design: Abbey Salvo, Gina Thropp, Veronica Noone, Jamie Nola, Michell Matir
Flash Animation: Jamie Nola, Rachel Kreutzinger
Bloggers: Joseph Achsaha, Belawoe Akwakoku, Alexandra Alton, Dave Anguish, Vikram Bambawale, Monica Berron, Megan Carpenter, Mitch Case, Jake Dillon, Dinah Douglas, Ahmed Eissa, Yanil Escolastico, Conor Fowler, Mahaelet Gennene, Maren Gonzales, Ashby Henningsen, Andy Holter, Jackson Houbolt, Susan Keen, Julianna Kuhn, Laura Lefavor, Caitlin Leiter-Mason, Jess Manzo, Patrice Mathews, Stefanie Mavronis, Rachael Mueller, Kaspar Nilsson, Valerie Parks, Sayre Posey, Ebonie Riley, Martha Rusk, Virgil Thomas, Molissa Udevita, Rose Wallace
USDemocrazy Website: