Political communication was the topic of a recent first-time course at Lee University.
“We really wanted to do something with the presidential campaign,” professor Meagan Moe said. “A lot of our students are really interested in politics and really active. We are always looking for ways to try to incorporate what’s happening in the world with what’s happening in our field.”
Part of doing this for the course was enlisting the help of Fox News Radio journalist and Lee alumnus Todd Starnes.
“He has always been so generous with his time. He often comes once a semester and speaks to our classes,” Moe said.
Moe said Starnes had wanted to have more time to speak with the students than a one-time class visit would allow.
“We are really blessed and fortunate to have someone that’s on the front lines on a journalistic field,” Joshua Eferighe, a junior journalism major, said.
Eferighe said the is “very informal compared to the other classes, maybe because it is a five-day class. ... It is a class that’s deep in your major, so everyone who takes this class wants to be in this class.”
He said the format allows the students to have a lot of input in the class.
“But at the same time we are learning so much,” Eferighe said.
Moe said that while she covered the academic side of the class, Starnes could share stories of professional experiences.
This was the first time a political communications class had been offered, according to Moe. It was also the first one-credit communications class she had been a part of. However, other departments at the university had tried this approach. Moe said it was seeing another department’s poster for such a class that gave her the initial idea. Planning for the course began this summer.
The class met for three hours a night Monday through Thursday last week and finished up on Friday.
Moe said she saw the format as a way to create a more interactive course that stressed student participation.
“I thought it would work very well with our students, and it did,” Moe said.
The class kicked off discussing political debates, and then watching the presidential debate together.
“It was just a really interactive experience,” Moe said.
Other topics for the weeklong course included bias in the media when covering politics and changes the social media phenomenon has brought to politics. Starnes also shared what it is like to be a reporter covering candidates on the campaign trail.
Eferighe said having someone in the field teaching the class brought “invaluable experience” to the class.
“It makes us buy in more to what is being taught,” he said.
This also encourages the students to ask more questions. He said his two favorite topics in the course were political debates and discussing the role of social media in the campaigns.