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Aug. 29: Classes inspired by presidential election

Thursday, August 25, 2016

FREDERICK, Md.—Hood College professors are looking to give context and teach a healthy dose of skepticism as they give students perspectives on the upcoming presidential election.

Carin Robinson, associate professor of political science, has invited Frederick County Democratic and Republican Party leaders to her class Aug. 29 to discuss their political affiliations. Robinson says she wanted party activists in their 50s and older to compare their party allegiances with those of younger party members.

Democrats expected to speak to the class include Myrna Whitworth, chairwoman of the Frederick County Democratic Party; Mari Lee, a member of the Frederick County Democratic Central Committee; and Jim Racheff, a Democratic activist who helped lead Frederick County to enact a charter form of government. On the Republican side, the speakers include Mark Schaff, president of the Republican Club of Frederick County; Sandra Dalton, clerk of the Circuit Court; and Zach Peters, the economic development commissioner for Mount Airy.

Robinson says the class aims to give students a historical perspective on the election. Many of the students are political science majors who have strong feelings about the candidates. “Our goal in the class is to appreciate the significance of the election and to learn from one another,” she says. “It’s not to win arguments.” Her “Election 2016” special topics class meets from 5:30-8 p.m. in Rosenstock Hall, Room 218.

In another election-related class, Alan Goldenbach, assistant professor of journalism, is teaching freshmen to be skeptical about the messages coming from both political parties. His first-year seminar, “Who’s Telling the Truth? Mass Media and the 2016 Presidential Campaign,” looks at news stories, advertisements and even late-night comedy to explore the presidential election. Goldenbach says the course is a trial run for a class he would like to develop to teach students to be more skeptical about information. The presidential election provides a clear opportunity to evaluate contradictory messages, he explains. “You have two people who are steadfast that they are right, and that’s not possible,” he says. The course, which meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 10:50 a.m. in Rosenstock Hall, Room 216 includes freshmen with a variety of academic interests, including elementary education, journalism, nursing and foreign language.

The two courses are among a number of election-related activities on the Hood campus. The College Democrats and College Republicans are planning a series of debates as well as a voter registration drive.

Other events include: 

  • Sept. 20, 1 p.m., Beneficial-Hodson Library, 2nd Floor: A lecture about social polarization and the 2016 election by Lilliana Mason, assistant professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland.
  • Oct., 24, 5:30 p.m., Beneficial-Hodson Library, 2nd Floor: A lecture and book signing by Melissa Deckman, professor of political science at Washington College and author of “Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies and the Changing Face of the American Right.”

For more information, contact Liz Atwood at 301-696-3231 or