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Hofstra University Weaves Debate into Curriculum

When Hofstra hosts its third consecutive presidential debate on September 26, 2016, the University will once again engage students in an historic event that allows them to witness the democratic process firsthand. Students will have the opportunity to hear from a wide range of speakers in the weeks leading up to the debate, including political strategists, award-winning journalists and commentators, and former White House advisors and presidential candidates. What’s more, many Hofstra University seminars and courses will engage students in debate-related issues throughout the fall semester. Here’s a sampling:

Hofstra University Honors College

  • Analyzing the 2016 Elections
    Dr. Andrea Libresco will examine the process of electing a president in 2016 throughout this three-credit course. Students will investigate and assess the nominating procedure, as well as the candidates’ positions on current issues. They will also discuss the roles that media, money, parties, debates, advertisements and the Internet play in the election process. Students will consider the influence that race, class and gender have on both voters and candidates, and they will examine the domestic and foreign policy challenges that the new president and congress will face.

  • International Migration: Causes, Effects and Responses
    Led by Dr. Tina Mavrikos-Adamou, this three-credit seminar will focus on the causes, effects and responses to international migration and the relationship between the international legal environment and that of the nation-state where these crises play out domestically.

  • Making Babies: Religions respond to new reproductive technologies
    In this three-credit course, Dr. Ann Burlein explores the reception of reproductive technologies such as IVF and surrogacy in different religious and cultural contexts.


Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs

  • Principles of Economics I
    Professor Martin Melkonian challenges students to discuss such hot-button debate issues as trade imbalances, climate change, unemployment and inequality during this three-credit course.

  • Explorations of Current Economic Issues
    Professor Thomas Delguidice discusses health care, global warming, unemployment and inequality throughout this three-credit course.

  • Macro Freakonomics
    In this four-credit seminar, Professor Massoud Fazeli addresses the following issues with students: the U.S. in the global economy, challenges of economic growth, and economic policy.

  • Micro Freakonomics
    Professor Massoud Fazelli engages students in discussions about income equality, the changing nature of the U.S. labor force, and the presidential election during this three-credit course.

  • U.S. History from Reconstruction to the Present
    Dr. Alan Singer targets discussions on the fall debates and election throughout this three-credit course.

  • Understanding Our World: American Elections
    With the 2016 presidential campaign in mind, Professor Michael Galgano and his students will analyze key elections of the past, beginning with the emergence of political parties under George Washington. Students examine the participation of the "common man" in the electoral process, and the use of scandal, demagoguery and "dirty tricks" to gain political advantage, as well as the strong influence of party bosses and other "kingmakers" over their candidates, the emerging power of money, and the use of different media to communicate the candidate's message to the American people and to "sell" his or her carefully crafted image. During this three-credit course, students will read The Real Making of the President, a history of the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon election, which analyzes the first live presidential debate and the growing influence of television on politics.

  • Ancient Greece and Rome
    Dr. James Tan leads discussions on the origins and development of democracy and constitutionalism in Athens, Sparta and Rome throughout this three-credit history course.

  • Law, Philosophy and Public Life
    Dr. Amy Baehr introduces students to the political philosophies that animate our contemporary political discourse to help them identify themselves on a map populated by liberalism, communitarianism, social conservatism, free market conservatism, libertarianism, and socialism. In addition, this three-credit philosophy course introduces students to some of the most pressing questions of our political life: To what extent, and for what purposes, is taxation just? To what extent, and to what ends, may the government interfere with the liberty of individuals? What should be done about widespread race-based inequality in the United States? What should be done about the current and future consequences of global warming? And what should be done about the mass movement of people from less to more advantaged countries? Those political philosophies and issues will be front and center in the general election this fall.

  • American Foreign Policy
    Throughout this three-credit political science course, Dr. Paul Fritz investigates processes of foreign policy formulation and execution; the objectives, methods and consequences of major trends in American foreign policy; and analysis and application of theoretical constructs.

  • Winning the White House in 2016
    Led by Dr. Richard Himelfarb, this three-credit political science seminar examines the increasing expectations for presidential campaigns in the United States and their consequences for White House governance. In the 21st century, presidential candidates often must begin their campaigns nearly two years before the election to mount a viable race for the White House. Candidates compete fiercely for resources -- fundraising, media coverage, popular support – to win their party’s nomination and then the Presidency. How does the marathon to reach the White House serve American democracy, and does it prepare candidates for executive leadership? How do the dynamics of the race change with challenger candidates running to unseat the president’s party, and successor candidates running to continue the president’s legacy?

  • Islam
    Students are engaged in an introduction to the academic study of Islam throughout this three-credit religion course, which is pivotal in an election cycle that begs for more religious literacy.

  • Race and Religion in the Americas
    Throughout this three-credit religion course, Dr. Julie Byrne explores common topics of this election cycle, including issues of whiteness, history of people of color, and conflation of race and religion.

  • Women, Sex and Power
    Throughout this three-credit women’s studies course, Dr. Karyn Valerius addresses many of the issues that have been central to the political conversation in this election cycle, including the glass ceiling/workplace discrimination, pay equity, affordable health care and child care, low-wage workers (many of whom are women), women in politics, reproductive justice, and racial injustice. Women’s studies is particularly relevant now, given the historic nature of Clinton’s candidacy.


School of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts

  • Seminar in Theater Style I
    The last section of this three-credit drama course is a devised theatre group assignment in which students research, write and present for the community a piece based on something that evokes "sixties style" in the mode of one of the of sixties directors, playwrights or ensembles on whom they choose to focus. Dr. Cindy Rosenthal’s goal is for students to take on some aspect of the debate/election for the core content and question the piece interrogates.

  • Introduction to Literary Study
    Dr. Scott Harshbarger prompts a discussion on immigration policy in this four-credit English course, which is part of the Literature and Theater of NYC cluster, with field trips to Ellis Island and the Tenement Museum.

  • Gender and Image: Female Stereotypes in American Popular Culture
    In this four-credit English seminar, Dr. Paula Uruburu engages students with representations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s complicated conception of women.

  • American Fiction 1900-1950
    This three-credit English course examines how some American novels in the first half of this century both embody and call into question a certain conception of selfhood as unconditioned by history, society and nature. Dr. Lee Zimmerman explores definitions of America and American, which are at the core of debates over immigration policy and can help illuminate how it is that American “business as usual” underlies the culturally suicidal failure to engage the climate crisis with the urgency it demands.  

  • Storytelling to Engage and Persuade
    In this three-credit creative writing course on the rhetorical use of storytelling, Professor Joseph Chilman will address political narratives, similar to those that have emerged during this election cycle.

  • Writing Studies and Composition
    Professor Patricia Navarra tailors two class periods with debate-related activities and welcomes visitors to her classroom during this three-credit course. Students who wish to attend should contact Professor Navarra at Patricia.C.Navarra[at]hofstra.edu.

    Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2:20 – 3:45 p.m.: “What We Can Learn About Michele Obama’s DNC Speech”

    Tuesday, Oct. 1: Discussion and film about the “Laramie Project”


Frank G. Zarb School of Business

  • Introduction to Business Statistics
    This three-credit business analytics course introduces margin of error and sampling, with references to statistics to political polls. Images from previous presidential polls are incorporated.