By James Reed
When the California primary arrives, more than 70 Loyola Marymount University students will head to the polls with their exit survey materials in hand. And they’re getting credit for it.
The class they are taking, “Campaign 2020,” was designed by two LMU professors to take advantage of current events. The course description lays the issues out plainly: “Student Debt. Universal Healthcare. Jobs for the Future. Climate Change. Gun control. Immigration. Taxes.”
The course is led by LMU Professors Fernando Guerra and Michael Genovese. “We decided to offer a class this spring because this is such a momentous election, and we wanted to get students interested and active,” said Genovese. “The stakes are particularly high is 2020, and we want to engage students in the political process and help make them better informed and more civic minded.” Genovese, professor of political science and president of the Global Policy Institute, and Guerra, professor of political science and Chicano/a studies and director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles, have been regularly teaching courses on campaigns, but rarely do so on a particular primary season.
As of last week, Guerra and Genovese had over 70 students signed up for their class, and they expect that number to rise before the semester begins. Guerra called this a good sign that indicates how interested their students are in the upcoming elections. The two-unit course – from January to March – allows students to take it as a fifth class; if a student takes four four-unit courses, then they can take a fifth course tuition-free. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a polling project to help determine the mindsets of voters toward the candidates and electoral processes.
The course itself will consist of lectures by Genovese and Guerra, along with guest lecturers including Republican and Democratic operatives. Though it may appear to be a two-sided approach, Guerra claims they are not simply representing “both sides” because there are multiple sides in the political spectrum. Guerra and Genovese hope to bring that variety to the students so they can understand it. “The goal is to have students contextualize primary elections and understand how these elections are run,” Guerra said. “This is most idiosyncratic, and have students understand the elections are state by state. This is a unique system we have in the Americas.”
Luis Lopez, a student enrolled in the course, said, “This class is definitely for anyone who is looking to develop a deeper understanding of contemporary politics.”
A future campaign-related course is expected in fall 2020 to be taught by Guerra, Genovese, and Professor Jessica Levinson of LMU Loyola Law School. This course will focus on both the general election, and state and local races.
Reporter James Reed is a senior English major.