State & Local Government: Community, Communication, and Change
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State and local government policies directly affect people’s lives and sometimes influence communities far beyond local boarders. But knowing how and where to enter local policy debates can be difficult to figure out, even for people who have lived in the same place their whole lives. As a first step toward effective public engagement, we need to understand how government works, and how it is shaped by social, political, and economic forces. To “think globally and act locally” we must ask: What does it mean to be a resident of our community, state and county? What are our obligations to one another and to people outside our community? What do we need to know about community conversations and effective political messaging in order to influence public policy? And what does it take to become leaders in our communities and government offices?
This program will explore these questions with the goal of helping students become effective citizens, journalists, civil servants, social activists, or political candidates.
We will begin fall quarter with an examination of how Washington State’s governance system evolved and operates today. Our state constitution was shaped during a time of populist upheaval and progressive action which resulted in a structure of governance unlike any other in the U.S. We will investigate this structure and its contemporary implications through readings, films, research projects, guest speakers, and field trips.
Understanding the dynamics of public discourse and public opinion is also essential for effective political engagement. Observing current campaigns and debates, we will investigate how media messages are used to gain political support, and explore essential elements of persuasion that serve to advance an issue or interest. Our fall studies will include an introduction to public speaking and audio media skills that enhance students' ability to participate in the public sphere.
Winter quarter we will focus on current initiatives related to equity, affordable housing, and climate change. We will track legislation and investigate how local governments are responding to current events and citizen interests. Students will deepen their understanding of public influence through the study of strategic communication, and they will expand their audio journalism skills in order to produce original news reports for community radio.
Credits per quarter
- Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
$40 in Winter for studio training and production support.
Class Size: 50
Located in: Olympia