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Bennion Teachers' Workshop

The Bennion Teachers' Workshop for the Perpetuation of Democratic Principles is a program made possible by an endowment to Utah State University's Mountain West Center for Regional Studies. The endowment was created by Ione Bennion, a teacher and community activist, to "provide an atmosphere and the educational resources to explore the concepts upon which democracy is built, the conditions under which it flourishes, and the dangers to its existence." Taught by Utah State University faculty and guest speakers who represent the latest scholarship in the topics presented, the workshops focus on giving inservice and pre-inservice teachers practical tools that they can use in the classroom.

Ione Bennion with Students

Ione Spencer Bennion (1908-1997)

Utah State University's Bennion Teachers' Workshop was established in 1993 through the generous gift of Ione S. Bennion. She expressely aimed for the workshop to perpetuate democratic principles, namely “to explore the concepts upon which democracy is built, the conditions under which it flourishes, and the dangers to its existence…. The seminar participants are encouraged to explore new themes in their teaching and writing with democratic principles in mind.” 

A native of Salt Lake City, Ione Spencer Bennion moved to Logan when her first husband, Wayne Bennion, began teaching at what was then known as the Utah State Agricultural College (USAC).  After her husband’s untimely death in 1942, she returned to Salt Lake City to complete a BA degree in English. She was at work on a Master’s degree when USAC’s President Franklin Harris called to offer her a position as the college’s first Dean of Women. She served in that capacity until 1952 when she had to resign due to an anti-nepotism law from the 1930s that was resurrected after she married her second husband Ted Daniel, a USAC professor of forestry. But this kind of adversity never daunted her. She spent the next 28 years in the Logan school district, homeschooling the sick and disabled. 

Committed to community betterment, especially in regards to issues of social justice, Bennion was recognized as the Governor’s “Outstanding Volunteer” in 1979 for her tireless work with numerous organizations, including the Alliance for the Varied Arts, Foreign Students Committee, the Cache United Way Board, and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum. During the Eisenhower Administration, she began work on the Utah Committee on Civil Rights, contributing to the national adoption of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She also devoted much of her energy to women’s causes, including the Faculty Women’s League at USU, the Women’s Legislative Council, and the League of Women Voters. During the 1960s, Bennion was instrumental in starting a program allowing pregnant teenagers to finish high school. Later she served on the board of Planned Parenthood. She was also an ardent supporter of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and always hoped it would be passed during her lifetime. Another bequest from Ms. Bennion helped establish USU’s Women’s Center, which still exists today. Ione Bennion always went to great lengths to address any need she saw. Iranian and East Indian students often lived rent-free in her home while attending USU, and she was known for personally paying many disadvantaged students' college tuition. According to a 1979 news story, “Kindness and action against injustices… [were] just an integral part of the fabric of her life.”

2018  Bennion Workshop Brochure

Date: June 4 - June 8, 2018
Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Daily; Additional Events on Monday & Thursday Evenings
Place: University Inn - Room 507, Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Director: Dr. Julia Gossard, Assistant Professor of History, USU


Past Bennion Workshops -

2017 Bennion Teachers' Workshop
Literature of Protest: Civil Rights; Democracy; Social Justice 

2017 Bennion Brochure Cover

From joining Martin Luther King's March on Washington to joining a community conversation via a letter to the editor of a local paper, the synergy of people coming together in protest proves its power to create change on global, national, local, and personal levels. Through study of past and present social movements, participants in the 2017 Bennion Workshop considered the role of literature in civic engagement. Participants also explored the ethical dimensions of bringing these often-sensitive issues into the classroom. 

2016 Bennion Teachers' Workshop
Democracy and the Future of American Capitalism

2016 Brochure Cover

The 2016 Bennion Teachers' Workshop examined historic economic policy approaches and the current issues facing the United States. Teachers were assisted with incorporating coverage of economic policy, particularly presidential leadership during an election year, into their classrooms.

Additional Past Workshop Topics

Call for Proposals -
The Ione Bennion Teachers' Workshop for the Perpetuation
of Democratic Principles

Deadline: November 12, 2018

The Mountain West Center for Regional Studies at USU is seeking proposals for the 2019 Bennion Teachers' Workshop, a five-day summer workshop on democratic principles for teachers. Interpretation of democratic principles is broad, and many humanities and social science topics may qualify. Proposals with a global perspective and those with a creative/innovative approach to teaching democracy are encouraged.

Who: The workshop is directed by USU faculty or faculty teams who have proposed a topic and outlined a plan for the workshop. The workshop should include visiting speakers, hands-on experiences, lesson plans, and time for discussion and interaction among students and faculty.

When: The five-day workshop is held in June.

Where: The workshop is held on the Utah State University campus in Logan, and is attended by post-secondary and in-service K-12 teachers, as well as prospective teachers from throughout Utah and the Intermountain West.

How: Individuals interested in submitting a proposal should schedule a consultation with MWC Director to discuss ideas before preparing the proposal. After meeting, faculty applying for funding will write a proposal narrative and budget.

Additional detailed information is available in the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies - Call for Proposals for the Ione Bennion Teachers' Workshop document.

For information or assistance, please email the MWC Director at