Teaching During Trump

8/2

I’m teaching 2 American Government classes to a lot of UT students during a pretty extraordinary political time – one is a large lecture class and the other is an even larger on-line class that I’m team teaching with my wonderful colleague Sean Theriault. I’ve been thinking about how to present current events (usually one of my favorite parts of class) without turning my class into the “Trump show.” Can we ignore what’s happening? Of course not – every day fundamental questions in politics are making it onto the front pages of newspapers. One of my teaching goals is to equip students to become educated consumers of political news, and frankly, the idea of teaching American politics without relating it to what’s happening now bores me. On the other hand, the amount of political news is overwhelming and our politics are divisive – some of our students might be very supportive of political actions that leave me very worried (and vice versa, of course). With that in mind, I’m creating this blog to share my strategies and experiences for colleagues, students, and really, anyone who’s interested. I have a couple of weeks before the semester starts (yikes!) but here are some ideas I’m starting with:

  1. Policies, not personalities: Scaramucci who?
  2. At least some politics is local: state and local politics are important to all of us and don’t get enough attention. They will in this class.
  3. Outsource: I plan to use short news clips in class. It’s efficient and that way I’m also less likely to offer up my opinions. That’s what twitter is for, right?
  4. What’s good to read? We’ll have a class page where anyone can post links (psst – my recomendations will be disproportionally from lawfareblog.com). Current events reading isn’t required, but for those of us who want it, it’s there.

More to come, but that’s where I’m starting. Today I’ll also share this piece by Jennifer Victor that I like. She argues that political scientists have an obligation to speak up during uncertain political times.  https://www.vox.com/mischiefs-of-faction/2016/11/18/13673274/political-science-call-to-action