Courses to include poll in curriculum
Posted November 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm in News
With USC and the Los Angeles Timesâ joint polling project underway, directors are emphasizing the involvement opportunities the polls offer students, but students seem unaware of those options.
USCâs College of Letters, Arts & Sciences and the LA Times are conducting a series of six polls leading up to the 2010 gubernatorial election. The collaboration is the first joint polling effort between the university and a local newspaper. The first of the six polls was released two weeks ago.
Though organizers hope the polls will leave a mark on the California political world, Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, said the polls are equally important for their impact on students.
âThe Dean [Howard Gillman, of the College] was particularly insistent that students would not only have opportunities to be involved, but they would also have education opportunities to learn from their involvement,â Schnur said.
According to Schnur and other political science professors, opportunities for students include formulating poll questions, running focus groups, analyzing results, pitching campaign strategies for candidates and working hands-on with professional political reporters from the Los Angeles Times.
Many of these opportunities for student involvement stem from six existing political science classes, the curriculums of which will be partly structured around the poll.
Students are able to register for these classes now, but many classes are not filling up quickly.
Though some of the classes are full because of studentsâ general interest, most students said they did not know about the extent of the opportunities awaiting them.
âI did know about the polls but I didnât know they were going to be involved in this class,â said Jason Duong, a junior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention major who will be taking an ethics and politics class. âItâs actually a pleasant surprise, I thought it was going to be just a lot of lecture and book work.â
Many other students said they werenât aware the poll was a part of these classes, as professors have not included the polls in course descriptions or other materials.
âMy plan is to talk to the students about the poll on the first day of class so they understand it is a part of the larger course goals,â Schnur said.
Schnur said he couldnât really do much advertising because the poll will be one aspect of his class, not the whole class.
Still, some students said they would have liked to have known.
âThere should have been some kind of advertisement to get over the shock factor,â said Samantha Howell, a sophomore majoring in political science and international relations. âBeing a poli-sci major, why would you not want to be a part of a poll project? If they do advertise it, maybe other students would want to join the class.â
Students, however, said they are excited to be involved.
âI am actually thrilled about this,â said Drew Florio, a senior majoring in political science. âIt will give me a snapshot of what Iâll be doing after school and Iâll be doing it with distinguished faculty.â
The classes are not the only way students can work with the polls next semester. Schnur said there will be many different programs awaiting students in the next couple years that will supplement the political poll project.
âWeâve received interest from all four gubernatorial campaigns about participating in our program and we intend to work with the campaigns for the US Senate and the major ballot initiatives as well,â Schnur said. âWe want students to have a front row for the campaign season as it unfolds.â
Schnur also pointed out that anyone from any major could participate in these different opportunities.
âIf a student wants to be involved, we will find a way that they can be,â Schnur said.