Every four years there is a special class offered at the University and a presidential election to go with it. The Communication Department offers a special course that focuses solely on the election, originally, back in 2008, the class was cross-listed by the Communication Department and Political Science. The course gives students a chance to discuss the issues and have a bipartisan explanation of what each candidate has said or done.
The class mainly focuses on the role of communication in the presidential campaign through dissecting a number of things that occur as the election goes on. According to the course description, there is a strong focus on the “rhetoric, advertising, mass communication, debates, and the Internet” aspects of the campaign and how each candidate using all of these techniques.
Dr. Michael Phillips-Anderson, associate professor of communication, is the instructor for the course this year and explains that the idea of having this class started in order to give a deeper look into the communication that occurs during a presidential campaign. “Presidential rhetoric is a focus of my scholarship and a large part of other courses I teach (Political Communication, Rhetoric & Persuasion), but those classes don’t provide an opportunity to get into as much depth about presidential campaigns as a special topics course,” said Phillips-Anderson
The class takes a very bipartisan look at both President Obama and Governor Romney. Everyone is able to speak openly about his or her beliefs, and disagree as he or she chose. It is a comfortable environment to learn and discuss politics honestly. It gives you both sides of the argument, which is definitely beneficial to undecided voters and students who have already made up their minds.
Profeessor Lorna Schmidt, Director of Advising Applied Communication, has heard only positive feedback from students that are taking the course. “What I have heard from students is that they are very pleased with the class and that it has given them a more rounded view of the presidential campaign,” Schmidt said.
Dan Gunderman, a communication major, is taking the course this year because of his strong interest in presidental politics.
However the course has not affected his decision on who is voting for, “I already knew who I was voting for before I took the class; my mind hasn’t changed,” said Gunderman.
However, you do not have to be interested in politics to really enjoy the class according to Kirsten Webb, a communication major. “Unfortunately I do not like politics at all. I took this class for my communications major requirement. I didn’t really know anything about anything relating to politics so I figured this could be a really informative course for me,” Webb said.
The class has changed the way Webb thinks about politics, and has actually made her become more involved. “It has taught me a lot about the basics of politics and being able to discuss each candidate and each debate forced me to really pay attention to everything going on.
Webb goes on to explain, “Discussing the candidates’ debating styles and what issues they stand for has been so helpful I’m actually starting to find myself more interested. I think it inf luenced whom I am going to vote for in this year’s election. I think being informed about presidential candidates and learning about politics and the history of politics is something all students should know. I felt almost like an irresponsible American being so uniformed! Now I actually feel like I’m prepared to place my vote.”
The course is not only offered for communication and political science majors, any major is welcome to take it. In fact, according to Phillips-Anderson, “It might be more important for other students to take it. Political Science and Communication majors might be more likely to discuss the presidential campaign in other classes in their major. As long as students from all majors are allowed to vote, it might help them to be informed about the process and history of presidential campaigns. And I think it is a fun subject to cover, especially with the debates and TV ads.”
Gunderman would agree with Phillips-Anderson, that regardless of the student’s major, they should take a look at this class. “It’s really a fun class and you can look forward to going to it,” Gunderman said.
The class is a special interest course and only offered every four years in regard to the presidential campaigns that are running at the time. So to all the students that will be here for the next presidential campaign, don’t forget to take a look into this course, regardless of your major.