INTER 125: (In)Decision – Campaigns and Elections in the U.S.

An interdisciplinary course combines political science with communications. This allows students an opportunity to immerse themselves in political involvement while bettering their general communication skills. The class is taught by Tim Jones and Katherine Oleson, who have taught similar interdisciplinary courses prior to INTER 125: (In)Decision 2014.
Jones explained that the idea for the class stemmed from his and Katherine’s “overlapping interests in politics and communications.” Oleson added that “the combination of our two fields and interest areas made sense.”
“We focus a significant amount of time on 1st Amendment rights and responsibilities —a key component of mass media,” Oleson explained. “We also focus on media literacy. Additionally, in this class we will focus on effective group communication as applied in political campaign teams.”
The class is oriented to appeal to a large variety of students, ranging from those with little to know knowledge of politics or communications, to those who are well-practiced and active in either or both fields. In the past, the class was asked to conduct a political action project, for which students involve themselves in the political world around them in creative ways. For some, this is life-changing; many entry-level students had no prior experience involving themselves in their government whatsoever. Oleson said, “I hope that students will leave the class as more active and educated citizens.”
“Neither Katherine nor I expect any prior knowledge from students taking the class,” Jones said. “As long as students are interested in the subject matter and willing to engage with the material I don’t think they should be nervous about their lack of knowledge coming in. Katherine and I create reading prompts for every reading that we assign so that students know what to focus on in each reading, and we provide time in class to discuss the readings. We are also available during office hours, so there are lots of opportunities for students with questions to ask them of us.”