New fellows to teach courses on politics, media

Center for the Political Future welcomed Ann Klenk, Adam Nagourney and Ron Christie as the Fall 2019 cohort of fellows. Each fellow will teach a two-unit course related to political strategy and the role of the media. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan)

Center for the Political Future welcomes three new fellows this semester to teach two-unit courses on today’s political and media climate from a variety of viewpoints and encourage political discourse among students in and out of the classroom. 

Joining the University this semester are Ann Klenk, former senior and co-executive producer of “Hardball with Chris Matthews”; Adam Nagourney, Los Angeles Bureau Chief for The New York Times; and Ron Christie, former policy adviser to the Bush administration.

Co-Directors of CPF Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy, faculty from the Department of Political Science and other CPF staff selected these fellows for their diversity in background and experience, which includes political consulting and journalism. Shrum said that he hopes the fellows will provide students with fresh perspectives.

“We want partisan balance,” Shrum said. “We want people who are interested in engaging with students. And we want people who either have had some experience teaching a course, which a lot of them have.”

Titled “Producing History,” Klenk’s course dives into the journalistic process  and how it informs citizens, especially in today’s political climate with claims of “fake news.” Klenk is one of the only female executive producers in primetime television.

“Right now the press, especially cable news, is under a lot of fire by a lot of different politicians in this country,” Klenk said. “I thought it would be challenging to come to USC to teach a class [titled] Producing History, because I think that is what television is about. It’s a big challenge, but I think the time is right for young people, the next generation of journalists, in particular, television journalists, to find out exactly how a television news show is put together.”

According to Klenk, her course will also cover topics like investigative reporting, pop culture in political television and the importance of diversity in newsrooms, and will feature guest speakers including key women in media and journalism like Izzy Povich, the vice president of CNN.

Nagourney’s course, “2020 Primary in Real Time,” will follow the primary elections. His course also features several guest speakers who talk about their careers and experiences reporting on past elections. 

Nagourney, who previously served as the Times chief national political correspondent, said his course will look at how election processes have changed and developed over time, including the process by which parties choose their candidates.

Christie’s course is titled “Interest Group Politics” and will teach students about the different roles individuals and organizations have in the political process. In an interview with the Daily Trojan, Christie subtitled the course as “How Washington D.C. works on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue.” Beyond just discussing politics along partisan lines, Christie wants students to understand the different roles people play in politics, and how students can get involved.

“What I want to do is to allow students who are interested in public service the opportunity to delve deeper into public service,” Christie said. “What does it mean to work in policy? What does it mean to work in politics? And hopefully inspire those who might be considering a career in public service.” 

This is the second year CPF has hosted fellows. Former fellows from Spring 2019 include Symone Sanders, a senior advisor for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and CNN commentator; Mike Madrid, who serves as the principal at Grassroots Lab, a premier campaign management and lobbying firm located in California; and Doug Schoen, an influential Democratic campaign consultant who worked for Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg and several U.S. senators and governors.

“[The fellows program] supplements the coursework that students can do at USC by bringing them into contact with people in the real world of politics who have played a role as activists, strategists, journalists [and] pollsters,” Shrum said.

With the 2020 election just around the corner and the primaries in a few months, CPF hopes to host a variety of educational programs for the USC community. At the Democratic Debate Watch on Sept. 12, Klenk and Christie will be joining the stage to give live analysis for students and faculty.