Fall 2018 Courses in the Center for the Study of Public Life

Looking for interdisciplinary classes that think outside the box? Want to go beyond theory and understand how academic concepts apply in real-world settings? Take a class with the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life!

Following are courses that currently have seats available for Fall 2018. You can see all CSPL courses here. And, if you like what you see, we encourage you to also check out the Service-Learning courses for Fall 2018 here.

CSPL 206 Group Psychology in Politics: Local, State, and National Perspectives
Dan Drew
F 1:20-4:10pm

This course is an introduction to the use of group dynamics to understand the deep personal and systems-level issues at play in the body politic. This framework is applicable at the local, state, national, and international levels. Often, if not most of the time, these issues play an outsized role in any public policy initiative, debate, vote, action, deliberation, and discourse – though they are rarely acknowledged. This class will examine group dynamics as it is practiced in the field of organizational development (OD), a branch of organizational psychology used to implement cultural changes across social systems. The application of OD to politics is not widespread, but its tools are useful in understanding the dynamics in political situations and in the understanding of how power is exercised. The course will introduce concepts in open systems theory and will introduce three models to “hold the data” in our case studies: the Burke-Litwin Model, BART, and GRPI.

CSPL 225 Critical Design Fictions
Barbara Adams
MW 2:50-4:10pm

Design fiction involves the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change. Through practices of estrangement and defamiliarization, and through the use of carefully chosen design methods, this course experiments with the creation of provocative scenarios and imaginative artifacts that can help us envision different ways of inhabiting the world. The choices made by designers are ultimately choices about the kind of world in which we want to live–expressions of our dreams, fantasies, desires, and fears. As an integrated mode of thought and action, design is intrinsically social and deeply political. In conversation with science fiction, queer and feminist theories, indigenous discourses, drag and other performative interventions, this course explores speculative and critical approaches to design as catalysts for imagining alternate presents and possible futures. We examine a number of environmental and social issues related to climate change, incarceration, gender and reproductive rights, surveillance, emerging technologies, and labor.

CSPL 239 Startup Incubator: The Art and Science of Launching Your Idea
Makaela Kingsley, Ojala Naeem, and Jeremy Szechenyi
M 1:20-4:20pm

The Startup Incubator is a one-semester, experiential learning program designed to teach and enable student entrepreneurs to develop sustainable business models from their ideas. Students are an ambitious, committed, and diverse group of individuals from all classes and majors who are passionate about developing successful solutions to challenges; identify as entrepreneurs, disruptors and thought leaders; and have the tenacity, work ethic and ability to succeed. All participating students will have a promising business idea and will take the course with the intention of launching or running their own venture. Student Incubator students actively participate in one cohort meeting a week: most are “classes” that take the form of lectures or workshops, and some are “practice days” that provide time to practice theories and methods necessary for success.  Students also dedicate 10+ additional hours per week to assignments, self-directed work, customer discovery, networking and mentoring sessions. This course will feel like a combination of a college class and a rigorous startup incubator program. Success is a student using theories learned in class to validate their ideas by developing and accurately testing business assumptions, identifying and researching their target market, and pivoting to develop a sustainable business model. By enrolling, students make a commitment to themselves, the instructor, and the other members of the class.  

CSPL 250 An Introduction to Data Journalism
Stephen Busemeyer
W 7:10-10:00pm

This course is designed to familiarize students with the basic principles and tools of data journalism and to provide a wider understanding of the role of basic data analysis in society. To that end, the course will focus on developing a solid familiarity with basic data analysis and visualization software. It will also focus on developing the tools of journalism: retrieving public data, interviewing people and databases, and the basic principles of journalistic writing. By the end of the course, students will be able to analyze data, identify stories within the data, and create a news story complete with data visualizations of publishable quality–a skill transferable to many fields and disciplines. Both online and traditional print platforms will be covered.

CSPL 250P “It’s a Mess”: An Academic and Practical Look at Digital Media in the Late 2010s
Lily Herman ‘16
R 7:10-10:00pm

Hot mess. Dumpster fire. Steaming turd pile. Commentators, journalists, and the public have all used these terms to describe the state of American digital media in 2018. While the profession of journalism is more noble in this era than in previous decades, the world of media creation and consumption is far more complicated than ever before. For young people hoping to get their start in the world of digital media in the late 2010s, catching a break is even harder.

The purpose of this class is twofold: It will introduce students to the larger issues spanning digital media–from a lack of diversity and inclusion to problems with monetization and “Fake News”–while also giving them the chance to walk through what it’s actually like to pitch, write, and edit for an internet publication. Students will have the opportunity to write for a class blog using strategies that the digital media world uses today, and they’ll spend time giving and receiving feedback on writing.

CSPL 315 Policy and War through Film
Robert Cassidy
M 1:20-4:10pm

This course explores how America’s policies and wars interact with culture and identity. It combines films and readings to gain a deeper understanding of film as an artifact of culture, war, and identity. The course begins with a discussion of key foundational works to frame a common understanding about strategy, war, and American strategic culture. It then combines film viewings and critical scholarship to discover how the interpretations of America’s wars through film shape American citizens’ perceptions of war and their military. The films, readings, and seminar discussions will help students develop a better understanding of the differences between the realities and the perceptions of policy and war. This course lies at the intersection of international relations, history, and conflict studies. Participation in this course will increase the students’ understanding of how U.S. policy, war, culture, and identity interact. It will also sharpen critical thinking and writing.

CSPL 330 Policy and Strategy in War and Peace
Robert Cassidy
T 1:20-4:10pm

This course explores how the relations, relationships, and discourse between senior national civilian and military leaders influence the development and execution of policy and strategy in war and peace. In theory, the purpose of war is to achieve a political end that sees a better peace. In practice, the nature of war is to serve itself if it is not influenced and constrained by continuous discourse and analysis associated with good civil-military relations between senior leaders. This course begins with discussion of the key foundational works to build a common understanding. It then explores how civil-military interaction influenced strategy in war and peace for each decade from the Vietnam War to the present. The readings and seminar discussions also examine how the outcomes of wars influenced civil-military relations and the subsequent peace or wars. This course lies at the intersection of international relations, history, and conflict studies. Students will gain greater understanding of how U.S. policy makers, strategy, and war interact, while honing their critical thinking and writing skills.