Innovative Course Studies Political Science via Internet Immersion
At Hobart and William Smith, the academic dialogue is getting even bigger, especially when it comes to politics. Not only are HWS students getting immersed in global cultures around the world when they study abroad, now, students at the Colleges are being immersed in Internet culture on the World Wide Web in one of the newest, most innovative courses that the Colleges offer.
Political Science professor Jodi Dean pushes the boundaries of the classroom in her tech-savvy course, Politics of the Internet. Studying the ever-changing political climate of the Information Age, students stay current with Internet culture by maintaining class-focused blogs as a way of responding to class discussions and readings as well as contributing to a general class blog.
“This class is unique, distinct from any other course at the Colleges,” explained Brandon Gillespie ’10, one of Dean’s students.
Gillespie and his classmates in the course recently formed groups and created three to five minute videos that reflect the use of the Internet and technology in the current presidential campaign. With the openness of Dean’s assignment, students in the course created a wide array of perspectives. Rebooting Obama explored game theory as it applies to politics and, in turn, Obama’s effectiveness in mobilizing younger voters and unifying a collective base of support. Another video, titled Youth Voting and Electronic Voting, focuses on the historically poor turnouts for youth voters in the United States and what some new ways of expanding voter participation may be. One proposed solution covered in the video is the transfer to electronic voting methods, such as touch screen computer voting machines, however this solution leads to problems such as lack of paper trail and confirmation of correct vote tallying.
Now posted on YouTube, these videos have, in essence, become a part of the web culture they study. Dean has showed her students how to enter and engage with the digital territory opened by her course, allowing her students to respond to the wi-fi fast messages fired back and forth across the new, World Wide Web of political discourse. In doing so, Politics of the Internet begins its own conversation – in the classroom and online.