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American Presidency Class Comes to Campus

Political Science Class that Comes Every Four Years is Getting Rave Reviews

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The 2012 Presidential election is only two and a half months away which means it’s time for the University political science department to again offer a class that runs every four years. The American Presidency, being taught this semester by Dr. Joseph Patten. Chair of political science department.

The class is now underway and is discussing not only this year’s election but also what the presidency means in a broader context. To try to begin to understand what the presidency does to someone, just look at before and after pictures of most presidents. President Barack Obama, not yet done with his first term, has more than a few gray hairs. No one can truly understand being the President unless they have the job.

But this class will be able to show how the commanderin- chief has evolved from the very first person to hold the job, General George Washington, to 223 years later President Barack Obama.

Everyone knows the president and what he stands for. However does the president really have many powers? What kind of chief executive did the founding fathers envision?

These are the types of questions analyzed and discussed at full length in this engaging course. Patten agrees, “The American Presidency is an especially important class to teach during the heat of a presidential campaign because the election helps to contextualize the constitutional origins of the office, the evolving presidential selection process, the impact of presidential powers on the domestic and international stage, and traits associated with effective political leadership.”

Not only is there lively conversation about the presidency in general, but also a key part of the class will be the debates. Students pick a side; they can either imitate the incumbent Democratic President Obama, or Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

The key issues of the election will be argued between the teams. These issues include foreign policy, economy and jobs, the deficit, and energy. This unique approach will allow the students to see the issues from both sides. Junior political science major Kelly Craig said that American Presidency Class Comes to Campus Political Science Class that Comes Every Four Years is Getting Rave Reviews she was very excited for this class “I have an interest in the Presidency and it also seemed like a perfect time to take the class with the presidential election around the corner.”

The class will also talk about the different styles that Presidents have used to govern. Following the Watergate scandal a new form of transparency has been demanded of the highest office.

With transparency has also come a general distrust of the president and government as a whole. Congress has the lowest approval rating in the history of polls. Presidents have the highest approval ratings after they are elected, and then they take a nose dive. In less than two years President Obama went from a 65 percent approval rating to 44 percent. He still way above congress which is at 13 percent according to a recent Gallup poll.

One of the major reasons for the lowest approval ever is the partisanship of our elected official. The goal for Patten in this class is to break the partisan nature for the students in his class. “One of the goals of this class is to empower students of all political stripes with the ability to rise above destructive and petty partisan discourse and to instead engage our politics in objective and meaningful ways.”

Craig said that one of the main reasons she took the class is because he was teaching it. Patten routinely has his classes fill up quickly, and for good reason. Unfortunately this class won’t be run again for another four years, when all current students reading this will have graduated or gone onto graduate school.

PHOTO COURTESY of Christopher Orlando