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    OCTOBER 26, 2006
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Participatory politics

“Campaign 2006” class gets students field and office experience during election season

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in September, Temple political science professor Robin Kolodny looks out over the crowd of students, and begins firing questions at them. How much money can an individual give to a political candidate? Is the latest campaign TV ad accurate? Does anybody have an example of an “in-kind” donation? Hands across the room shoot up, and it becomes clear that this group of students is especially qualified to answer the questions.

 These 36 political science majors are all members of Kolodny’s “Campaign 2006” class, an experiential learning course that not only provides standard classroom learning, but also sets up students in internships in campaign offices across the Philadelphia region.

             

“You can read campaigning in a book,” says Kolodny, who began teaching at Temple in 1991, “but it is very much something that you have to learn about on the ground.”

             

It was Kolodny’s experimental “Campaign 1998” class that launched a series of experiential learning courses in Temple’s political science department. Now, at least one six-credit experiential learning class is offered each semester. Other experiential learning courses include “The Politics of Poverty,” “Law and American Society,” “NGOs in International Relations,” The Politics of the European Union” and “Youth Civic Engagement and the Community.”

david
posobiec
tobing
caplan

Jonathan David

Jack Posobiec

Dameria Tobing

Adam Caplan

Working for:

Committee of Seventy

Working for:

Santorum for Senate

Working for:

SEIU State Council

Working for:

Rendell for Governor

In 2003, the American Political Science Association honored the department for their advances in experiential learning with the Rowman & Littlefield Award for Innovative Teaching in Political Science.

               

Kolodny’s campaign class is offered once every two years, and is timed to presidential and congressional midterm elections. The course, which has limited seating and is extremely popular, is by application only. This year, students in the course are set up in the offices of candidates for governor, Congress, and U.S. Senate, as well as at interest and non-profit groups such as the League of Conservation Voters and the Committee of Seventy.

             

Kolodny says that in addition to giving students real-world experience, the campaign courses let students know what campaigns and elections are all about before they sign up for a full-time job in the field, expecting something entirely different.

“People initially think campaign politics is sexy. They have thoughts of being involved in strategy meetings and making commercials,” says Kolodny. She adds that on the course application, she listed tasks that interns are typically responsible for. “Making phone calls” found its way onto the list several times.

             

Kolodny says that she has received plenty of positive feedback from intern coordinators over the years. In each class, nearly half of the interns receive a full-time job offer at the end of their service or an offer to help that student find a job in another government office.

             

“They all love our interns and they really do express that they’re impressed with the dedication and consistency of Temple students,” says Kolodny.

             

Alumni from Kolodny’s campaign courses have gone on to work for the state, for the non-profit sector, for interest groups, and for congressional representatives. She says this is important, because many political science undergraduates think they need to go to graduate or law school to find a job that fits their interests.

 “I want students to know that there are other options out there,” says Kolodny. “It’s not about saying, ‘Don’t go to law school.’ I just want them to use their experiences to find out what they really want to do with their lives.”

By Alix Gerz

 

 


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