Political Science classes shaped for dynamic politics in election year

GVL / Amy Hammond

GVL / Amy Hammond

Sarah Hillenbrand

The elections are fast approaching and some professors at Grand Valley State University have incorporated election current events into their courses. Several of the faculty in the Political Science Department agreed that the elections bring more enthusiasm and interest in the major and classes, but its outcome will not have a big impact on Political Science majors and minors.

“People’s interest in political science should transcend who happens to be in the White House at the given moment,” said Donald Zinman, a professor in the Political Science Department. “I don’t think any particular outcome necessarily portends better or worse for the Political Science major.”

Professor Whitt Kilburn in the Political Science Department said the elections bring more attention to the Political Science major and minor and give students in the program more stimulating discussions in their classes to get them more interested in politics.

“I think it tends to connect students to politics they observe in a campaign to what they read about in their books and what they discuss in their classes,” Kilburn said. “It helps students to see the connections outside of the classroom.”

Department Chair Mark Richards agreed with Kilburn.

“The presidential elections bring a tremendous level of excitement and enthusiasm to political science classes,” Richards said. “Events like the debates allow students to discuss a common experience that is of interest to all students, regardless of their political viewpoints.”

He added that the elections should be of interest to GVSU students because possible future changes could greatly affect them, especially in regard to the economy, which may affect employment opportunities after college. Other issues being talked about include the environment, foreign policy and many other issues that could impact students.

“For many students, this will be their first opportunity to vote in a presidential election,” Richards said. “In addition, there are many issues of concern to GVSU students.”

Kilburn said every student should be invested in the elections because there are many issues being discussed that will affect them or they could be interested in.

“College students have a huge stake in the election outcome because, as young people, they have more of an interest in what happens in the future than those of us who are much older,” Kilburn said. “Whether it’s the economy, the environment, or America’s place in the world, it all affects college students’ futures.”

Although the outcome of the elections may not have a big impact on the major, it will be integrated into future political science classes to keep the course content up-to-date for current events, issues, and trends in politics, Zinman said.

“I’d like to think that students who are interested in this field are interested in it for reasons that go beyond who happens to be in power at the moment, and I think it’s the same for faculty as well,” Zinman said.

Kilburn encouraged students who might have an interest in politics to try taking a political science course and see what the major or minor is all about. “I think any student that finds something interesting out there about the presidential election should take the opportunity to enroll in a political science class to see what they can learn about,” Kilburn said.
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