Courses and Academic Work
As Hofstra prepares to host a presidential debate in October 2012, our faculty are looking at ways to engage students and prepare them for the unique opportunities that hosting a debate brings. Along with the special events, internships and projects that hosting the debate brings, many academic departments are offering special courses that study issues, the media, history, current affairs and political science relevant in the current election cycle.
More courses will be added as they are developed. Check back for updates.
JRNL 180T, 1 s.h.
Will 2012 Be the Twitter Election?
Social Media and the Presidential Debates
The 2102 presidential election is widely considered to be the first "social media election," where platforms like Twitter and Facebook will have arguably as much influence as television in electing the next President of the United States.
How will Twitter and Facebook be used by the politicians? The public? How can we judge credibility and sort fact from fiction in the social media sphere? What do Facebook followers mean to a candidate's campaign? Can we attain real, valuable information through Twitter?
This one-credit course will explore how the presidential candidates use social media platforms to position themselves and their agendas. In the context of the debates specifically, we will monitor social media dialog and explore how this dynamic interaction has affected communications between our citizenry and elected officials.
This course hopes to examine how, like famous televised debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in the 1960s, a new media revolution is again redefining the political process as we know it.
MASS 181B, 1 s.h.
Presidential Debates and Media Literacy
This course is a case study in media literacy. The televised debates will provide a platform for critical understanding of the nature of mass media, the techniques used by media outlets and the impact of these techniques on the voter. Topics include: Understanding Media Institutions; Analysis of the Signal; Media Grammar: Reading the Text; Media Framing and Formats; the Impact of the Social Media Landscape on Mass Mediated Debates; Constructing and Deconstructing the Message, and the History of Presidential Debates.
The course objectives are to enhance understanding of the role of televised debates in our political system and to stimulate thought about how to evaluate the media environment in which they are produced and consumed.
Specific objectives include the development of the skills to be active processors rather than passive receptors of media, including tools to evaluate the impact on perception as applied to the televised presidential debates.
MATH 30A, 3 s.h.
(MC) Mathematical Excursions
MATH 30A,6(CRN 92722) TR 12:45-2:10 Seabold
MATH 30A,7(CRN 92883) TR 2:20-3:45 Seabold
As Tom Stoppard wrote, "It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting." When we count one hundred million votes to choose a president, or a thousand votes to choose a town council member, the outcome of the election may depend on what methods we use. In this course on the mathematics of democracy, we examine the apportionment of the Electoral College and the relative power of individual states to affect the presidential election, and we weigh the benefits of alternate voting systems such as preference balloting and cumulative voting.
MATH 30B, 3 s.h.
(MC) Explorations in Mathematics
MATH 30B,4 (CRN 92245) TR 9:35-11:00 Orr
MATH 30B,U1 (CRN 92246) TR 2:20-3:45 Orr
The course will include two sections on Voting Theory. The first section examines four methods of tabulating votes in multiple-candidate elections: Plurality, Hare (aka Australian or Run-off), Pairwise, and Borda point scoring. The second section will study four criteria for judging the "fairness" of a method: the Majority Criterion, the Condorcet Criterion, the Monotonicity Criterion, and the Irrelevant Alternative Criterion. These criteria are applied to the four voting methods above, and Arrow's Theorem is discussed: no possible voting method can satisfy all four criteria. Students will learn about the various ways that the results of an election can be purposely skewed to the advantage of one candidate.
PHI 15, 3 s.h.
(HP) Law, Philosophy, and Public Life
Sec 1 MWF 10:10-11:05
In elections, candidates give us reasons for why we should vote for them. They say that they have the correct theory of government and will use power fairly and justly. Their opponent, they say, is guided by an incorrect theory. In PHI 15 -- Law, Philosophy, and Public Life -- we examine several theories of government, primarily libertarianism, conservatism, and liberalism. Students are encouraged to decide for themselves, upon reflection and after much reading and discussion of contemporary issues (from pornography to foreign aid), what theory seems to them the most accurate.
PHI 150, 3 s.h.
Sec 1 MWF 10:10-11:05
In analyzing and assessing arguments from public discourse, we will make regular use of speeches and texts of candidates on the campaign trail. Typically, a presidential election cycle produces many mistakes in, or abuses of, reasoning. We will endeavor to identify these as they occur, and possibly fix some of them, in an effort to stay reasonably informed and to fulfill the civic responsibility to vote and monitor current affairs intelligently.
PHI 181 1 s.h.
Topic: Why Can You Vote and APPLE, Inc. Can't?
Sec 1, MW 12:50-2:45 (Oct. 1-Oct. 26)
One person, one vote. But who's a person? You are, but legally, so are corporations. Yet, they don't vote. But, they have been regarded as "legal persons" with first amendment speech rights. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same political rights as persons to political speech, and hence the right to contribute to activities that advocate for the election or defeat of political candidates (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010). In this mini-course, we will explore the meaning of the idea that a corporation is a person, and some of the practical and political implications of such an idea. The course will meet for 4 hours a week for 4 weeks, starting October 1, 2012. No prior coursework or experience in philosophy is required.
PR 180-B, 1 s.h.
PR and the Presidency
"PR and the Presidency" will explore the role of public relations within historic and modern presidencies. The course will examine how presidents and presidential candidates have used PR tools and techniques to their benefit, as well has ways in which they have been harmed by poor communication and misguided responses to controversies. This 10-week course will pay special attention to presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Bush II and Obama and their unique—and often troubled—relationships with the public and the media.
In addition to examining historical events, each session will be placed within the context of the upcoming presidential election. The class will observe, discuss and debate the true power of the tools of public relations to influence policy and shape public opinion of presidential candidates.
There will be extensive video viewing in class to provide examples of candidates' use of television and the media's coverage of various presidencies and presidential elections. Additional attention will be paid to the current campaigns' use of social media to shape public opinion.
PSC 1 3-4 s.h.
(BH) American Politics
(BH) American Politics
Various Instructors and times
Analysis of the ideas, institutions and process of the American political system. When taught during an election year, the course focuses heavily on the presidential election.
PSC 105 3 s.h.
Contemporary Issues in American Politics
MW 4:30-5:55 p.m.
This course is an introduction to public policy in the United States. Students study a number of substantive policy issues currently at the center of American politics, all of which have shaped comparisons between the incumbent president's agenda and those of his challengers. The course will examine efforts to balance the federal budget, the future of Social Security and Medicare, and the prospects for health care reform and for welfare.
PSC 114 3 s.h.
Political Parties and the Voter
MWF 12:50 to 1:45 p.m.
This course explores party organizations, political campaigns and the political behavior of the electorate. The emphasis of this course varies depending on the election cycle, and in Fall 2012, the presidential election -- campaign finance, media, voter mobilization, and of course presidential debates -- will be at the center of the course. Students will take advantage of guest lectures, debate watches, post-debate discussions, and other special events on campus.
PSC 134 3 s.h.
American Foreign Policy
TR 8:05 to 9:30 p.m.
What foreign policy issues will affect the Presidential election campaign? How do the presidency and the executive branch affect the United States’ role in the international order? These questions help to order the discussion in this course, which explores how foreign policy is formulated and executed. Major trends in U.S. foreign policy are examined, and major foreign policy decisions are discussed and evaluated.
PSC 151 3 s.h.
Seminar in American Politics: Race for the Presidency
Section (1) TR, 12:45-2:10 p.m.
M. Bose, E. Rollins
Section (2) TR 12:45-2:10 p.m.
R. Himelfarb, E. Rollins
This seminar examines the increasing expectations for presidential campaigns in the United States and their consequences for American democracy and White House governance. Examines the campaigns and the evolution of the modern American presidency. Course will focus closely on the importance of the debates and political communication for executive leadership today. Two sections of this course will be offered and will meet together regularly for special guest lectures, discussions, and analyses of the national conventions, presidential debates, and other election-related events. Kalikow Center Senior Presidential Fellow Ed Rollins will meet with both sections of the seminar regularly.
RELI 77, 3 s.h.
(HP) Religion & the Media -- "I'm Voting For God:" Religion and the 2012
Sec 1, TR 9:35 – 11:00
The wall between church and state can get thin on the election trail; candidates are constantly invoking religion in obvious and subtle ways. The course will look at the ways in which religious discourse shapes the presidential election. Specifically, we will look at islamophobia, homophobia, and christianism. The first part of the course will look at events as they unfold, from television, Twitter, blogs, and magazine articles. After the election, we will focus on the historical context of many of the cultural debates, from the Know-Nothings to Park 51.
RTVF 180-F, 1 s.h.
Television Debate Coverage
RTVF 180-F Television Debate Coverage will focus on the planning that goes into the network news organizations' televised coverage of the 2012 Presidential Debates. Utilizing weekly guest speakers from the New York City media organizations - many of them Hofstra School of Communication graduates, various producing and production considerations ranging from site logistics and surveys, graphics, remote and pool feeds, talent, and live direction will be examined. The class will culminate with the Debate itself including (logistics permitting) an on-location site visit followed by a viewing 'party.' In the final class a week after the Debate, the class will examine how the preproduction led to more or less successful coverage of the event.
RTVF201C, 1 s.h.
Documentary Perspectives on the Presidential Campaign
This course, which is for MFA Doc Program grad students and Hofstra seniors, presents seven exemplary independent documentaries plus contemporaneous on-line documentaries that cover Presidential campaigns. It examines their styles, perspectives and techniques, particularly non-fiction storytelling differences between film and video productions.
This will be an intellectually invigorating course during this year’s Presidential election, especially with the October 16th Presidential Debate on Hofstra University’s campus. There will be fresh insights for you from these old and new movies. The course will inform your understanding of current events as well as future Presidential campaigns (and other political processes).
The selected docs are important as historic documents of their time. They show the development of Presidential campaigns over 50+ years as selectively captured by indy doc-makers. Most are also milestones in the development of the documentary form. Several screenings will be introduced by the movie’s segment producer and camcorder journalist, your professor.
SOC 188B: 1 s.h.
Topic: Class Warfare and the 2012 Elections: A case of the pot calling the kettle… sneaky".
Sec 1, W 1:55-3:45 (Sept. 3 – Oct. 17, 2012)
Why have Republicans been so quick to label some initiatives coming from the opposition party as attempts to foment "class warfare"? This seminar will take as its starting point the current use of the term to discredit political positions during the current election season. It will then move on to examine, from both theoretical and historical perspectives, the actual relevance of the concepts 'class struggle' and 'class warfare' to the realities of the U.S. political, economic, and social life. The course will conclude with a reconsideration of how current political actors are employing the concepts.
SOC 188B, 1 s.h.
American Power in Global Perspective
Sec 2, M 4:30-6:20 (Sept. 3 – Oct. 15, 2012)
How do the decisions of American presidents and legislators affect the rest of the world? How does U.S. foreign policy relate to the everyday lives of Americans? How do citizens of other countries perceive American politicians and citizens? Can America be understood as a moral leader in today's world? Using a sociological lens, this course will explore these and other questions centered on the political, economic, and cultural relationships between the United States and the rest of the world. Focusing specifically on topics including foreign aid, trade agreements, military intervention, and human rights, we will investigate the significance of American power, and consider whether (and how) this significance may be declining. Moreover, we will assess the foreign policy positions of each presidential candidate and seek to raise awareness of these issues among fellow students and voters. The course will emphasize the development of critical thinking through class discussion, formal written assignments, and participation in social media.
SPCM 181F, 1 s.h.
This course introduces students to current research in political advertising – the single largest expenditure for today's presidential campaigns. The class will examine the role of political advertising in U.S. elections, its role in our deliberative process, the controversy surrounding its alleged ability to grant greater influence to moneyed interests, and the controversy over the effects of negative advertising. The class will meet once a week over a seven-week period for one-hour classes. Students will also participate in three public events with experts examining political advertisements in the 2012 election cycle.
SPCM plans three Spot Watch events focusing on matters of political advertising strategy, political advertising's use of race, ethnicity and gender depictions, and its contributions to public argument. During these events, Hofstra faculty will be commenting on political ads from the 2012 election cycle alongside special guests funded by University Relations (e.g., GOP strategist Susan Del Percio, NYU professor Charlton McIlwain, FactCheck.org Director Brooks Jackson). Students in this class will participate in facilitating these events and may offer evaluations of their own.
Additionally, the class will center on current readings and findings pertaining to political advertising. Students will meet to discuss assigned readings. The course will culminate in a written assignment – a critique of political spots from the current election year.
First-Year Seminars with Debate-Related Content
ANTH 14F, 4 s.h.
(BH) New York and Slavery: Time to Tell the Truth
Sec 2, TR, 2:20-3:45 p.m.,
This course examines the history of New York City before the Civil War, through the struggle to end slavery. We cannot understand the history of the United States unless we understand the role of race and slavery. This class is part of the campus-wide commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation issued in preliminary form in fall 1862. The class will visit the African Burial Ground, Underground Railroad sites, and current archaeological digs in New York City and Long Island, and students will take the Lower Manhattan New York and Slavery Walking Tour.
In a Forethought to The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W.E.B. DuBois declared "the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line." As part of this class we will follow the presentations by candidates in 2012 presidential debates as well as media coverage and the public's response to help in examining the continuing impact of race on American society and electoral politics and to address whether the United States has become a post-racial society.
CLL 14F, 4 s.h.
(LT) Myth and the Modern World
Sec 1 TR, 2:20-3:45 p.m.
This seminar examines myth as a narrative form and explores its functions and its influence on the arts (visual arts, film, literature, music theater), culture and community. Tracing the continuity and change in myth over time, we consider the role of the hero, concepts of good and evil, the matter of faith, and the cycle of birth, life, and death. Our study of myth embraces Eastern as well as Western visual and narrative traditions.
In our discussions and activities connected with the presidential debate, we will consider the mythological structures of American political institutions with particular attention to the selection of the national leader. How do politically relevant myths support the social order? How do they connect up with ancient mythological themes?
FA 14F, 4 s.h.
(AA) Leonardo da Vinci to Andy Warhol: Why Art and Artists Cause Trouble
Sec 1, MW, 12:50-2:45 p.m.,
Many people think that art is harmless, and that it is a form of entertainment; in fact, however, art is powerful and dangerous. The class begins with Leonardo da Vinci, who argued that images have more impact than words. We then read Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who concluded that art threatens human happiness, and de Tocqueville, who believed art and democracy are enemies. We read a famous 19th-century short story about the tragic condition of the modern artist as well as a selection of 20th-century essays in art criticism that studies the impact of mass culture on the arts. We finish by studying the role of the fine arts in contemporary American society by analyzing a film by Woody Allen about artistic temperament. Students also travel to art museums and galleries in New York City.
The course culminates in a study of the role of images in the current presidential election. We will study how the famous Shepard Fairey Obama "Hope" image started, and explore the many reasons embedded in the image itself that it turned into an icon. With an eye to determining what succeeds in popular art, we will also study the images used in the 2012 presidential election. This is an exciting course for those students interested in grappling with unconventional ideas about art.
FA 14F, 4 s.h.
(CP) Graphic Design Inspirations
Sec 2, MW, 1-2:50 p.m.
Design history provides a wealth of inspiration to contemporary graphic designers. In this course we look back at some earlier designers and traditions and examine their influence on graphic design today. Examples of "retro graphics" provide the basis for our class projects in logo, poster, and motion graphics design. This retrospective includes Victorian wood type, the Vienna Workshop, Plakatstil (poster style) Paul Rand, and the Blue Note style in album covers. Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Adobe graphics software.
The visual identity of American political campaigning appears fairly homogenous. What are the possibilities and limitations available to their designers? How does the American approach compare to other nationalities? How did the Obama 2008 campaign reach out to the voters with a cohesive brand including a logo, slogan, and narrative? How have these choices been modified for 2012?
GEOG 14F, 4 s.h.
(BH, CC) Child Labor in the World Today
Sec 1 MWF, 12:50-1:45 p.m.
This course presents facts and theories about child labor in the world today. After a general introduction, we narrow it down to a country-by-country approach. (The students participate in the decision about which countries to study in more detail.) We then focus on the country-specific historical and societal context of child labor issues, coupled with a study of governmental policies and nongovernmental organizations' strategies to help alleviate the problems related to child labor, such as poverty and inadequate access to education. The course is based on lectures, documentary films, and discussions.
In the context of the election, we will consider child labor in the United States. Protective measures and age restrictions in agriculture for instance are very lax compared to other sectors of the economy, resulting in many children—including US citizens—working long hours for several months every year and many dropping out of school. What are the candidates' views on recent attempts at introducing stricter regulations on US agriculture in order to remedy such problems?
PSY 14F, 4 s.h.
(BH) Psychology Through Film and Literature
Sec 1 MW, 2:55-4:20 p.m.
This course provides a basic understanding of psychological disorder through film and literature. By studying the work of selected writers, directors and filmmakers, we investigate the basis of "abnormal" behavior. Our goal is to understand mental illness and its treatment. To that end, we examine the ways in which writers and filmmakers portray character, communication, and perceptual experience.
In the run-up to the Hofstra debate we will develop a grid to evaluate the frequency of negative comments by the candidates. We will watch Roosevelt's inaugural address to better understand what a quality speech is like, and how the president-elect responded to current economic policy. We will also watch Kennedy's highly successful address to the public following the Cuban missile crisis, and determine which features of that speech were effective. We will research how polls affect the public, and how the status of each candidate is calibrated by the press.
RELI 14F, 4 s.h.
(HP) Visions of Malcolm X
Sec 2 TR, 2:20-3:45 p.m.
This course introduces students to Malcolm X through his autobiography, a new biography by Manning Marable, and Spike Lee's 1992 film, X. Few books rise to the level of The Autobiography of Malcom X as a teaching tool, and few books have an impact on students' lives more powerfully. Course materials are supplemented with online resources about Malcolm X and field trips to Harlem and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Students learn about this most amazing and influential American seeker from different angles, as well as about religion, race, America, and themselves.
The incumbent President of the United States being the son of a black father and a white mother brings new relevance to the past challenges--prophecies?--of the unique American voice of Malcolm X. Questions of race and religion are already inflecting the 2012 election cycle. We will regularly ask not only what happened in Malcolm X's life, times, and thought, but also what happens in the life of a nation in dialectic with its citizens, both outspoken and silent, about race and related matters.
WSC 14F, 4 s.h.
(CP) How Writers Break the Rules — and Why
Sec 1 M/W, 2:55-4:20 p.m.
Have you ever wondered why so many of the writers you read don't seem to follow all those rules you worked so hard to learn in English class? In this course, we review those rules with a critical mind and examine a range of essays that part company with all apparent norms of writing. Readings include traditional essay models and a variety of exploratory, experimental and hybrid examples, as well as visual essays. We examine how the alternative forms work and why the writers felt a need to create them. Our goal, through reading, discussion and writing, is to reformulate the old rules to make our own writing possible and effective for the purposes and readers we have targeted.
Students will be guided in analyzing the discourse of the debates, the media coverage, and public reaction represented through letters to the editor, online commentaries, and other representations. They will then be asked to use the results of their study to produce a paper of their own in their own imaginative terms to defamiliarize the discourse in the interest of revealing its underlying dynamic.
WSC 14F, 4 s.h.
(CP) Rebellions in the Wilderness
Sec 2 TTH, 2:20-3:45 p.m.
In the television program Man vs. Wild, the host lands in a remote forest and hikes for days, eating meals that most of us would find revolting. At a time when 80 percent of the nation lives in an urbanized area, such pro¬gramming may be as close as most Americans come to an encounter with the natural world. Fortunately, American history, art and politics offer compelling alternatives to survivalist television shows. The wilderness, as both an idea and a physical place, has long been used to challenge definitions of progress and success in America. We examine key moments of environmentally driven rebellion, including Henry David Thoreau's two years spent living at Walden and Julia "Butterfly" Hill's two years living in a tree to protest the logging of old growth forest.
The one-credit extension of the course "Rebellions in the Wilderness" will focus on environmental and ecological issues in the campaign. Students will choose an issue and research the candidates' views about it. For example, a student might study the candidates' views on balancing property rights alongside the Endangered Species Act of 1973, or on the benefits of hydrofracking, or global warming.
FALL 2012 HUHC SEMINARS
(H1) Science and Society: Clashes and Collaborations
Professor Sabrina Sobel, Chemistry
Throughout history, the pursuit of knowledge has been influenced by the prevailing culture. In this seminar, we will explore how the development of math, physics and chemistry have been shaped by culture. To this end we will read and discuss the science history books: 'Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea', 'Galileo's Daughter' and 'Mendeleev's Dream'.
(H1) Crisis and America's War on Terror
Professor Boussios, Sociology
Known as the "war on terror," this major shift in U.S. foreign policy is grounded in a powerful discourse in the aftermath of 9/11 that justified a series of controversial policies, including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the enactment of the USA Patriot Act. How the U.S. media and popular culture participated in the construction, diffusion, and sometimes, critique of this powerful discourse has been influential in shaping American attitudes towards the "war on terror" which in turn has been critical in formulating political, military, and law enforcement responses. Part of this response has also been the tremendous efforts Western states have taken to control the growing threat of home-grown terrorism. This course takes a closer look at these different types of domestic and foreign threats, and the cycles of political and discursive processes that constitute security crises and responses with the challenge of balancing these responses with the values of Western democracy.
(H1) Analyzing the 2012 Election
Professor Andrea Libresco, Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
This course examines the process of electing a president in 2012 and in historical perspective. Participants will investigate and assess the nominating procedure; the candidates' stands on the issues of our time; the roles that media, money, parties, debates, advertisements, and the Internet play; the influence of race, class and gender on both voters and candidates; and the domestic and foreign policy challenges that the new president and Congress will face. Attention will be given to the ways in which citizens participate in the political process and to their quest for the kinds of reliable knowledge that are necessary to make informed judgments. Attention will be given to how the strategies we use in this class might be successfully deployed in elementary, middle and high school classrooms.
(H1) Political Marketing and the 2012 Election
Professor Shawn Thelen, Marketing and International Business
Political Marketing: The purpose of this course is to examine various techniques that are used to "market" political candidates and causes. The course will examine political campaigns from a 7P's perspective (product, promotion, place, price, process, physical evidence, people) with an emphasis on the packaging of the candidate/cause. Students will be required to examine political marketing from a historical perspective, comment on contemporary marketing techniques, as well as develop a political marketing plan for a candidate of their choice. As this is a presidential election year, we will be paying special attention to the ongoing campaigns throughout the semester.