Campaign Semester Courses

Students relaxing with their candidate at a sports game

Students participating in Campaign Semester will register for the following three courses:

Politics 270 - Seminar on Political Campaigns

The course, which will take place during the last five weeks of the semester and meet several times a week, allows students to explore theoretical and applied concepts pertaining to United States political campaigns. More specifically, students will examine the role of money, media, candidates, interest groups, leadership, gender, race, and political parties in terms of who wins and loses elections. Learning will take place through assigned readings, class discussion lectures, and guest lectures from campaign experts and candidates. Student learning will be assessed by their contributions to the classroom experience (discussion, dialogue), and engagement with assigned readings.  Enrollment limited to students participating in the Campaign Semester Program. 4 units.

Politics 271 - Campaign Fieldwork Internship

Students will participate in the daily activities of a campaign for 10 weeks. Students will gain experience in campaign politics and gain an understanding of how a campaign operates. Students will learn about political strategy, voter contact and turnout, messaging and polling, communications, volunteer recruitment and team-building, fundraising, policy and issue development, and other key aspects of campaigns. The internship will involve working full-time (a minimum of 40 hours a week) from the first day of class until Election Day. Campaigns involve long, hard days. The staff that students will work with will typically be working at least 12-16 hour days. Although students are required to work at least 8 hours a day, they are likely to work more.

As part of the Campaign Fieldwork Internship, students will be required to keep a daily log of their activities and maintain an internship journal that will be handed in at the end of the semester. The journal will describe their activities (including the projects they work on, campaign meetings and events, relationship of the campaign to the media, and of constituency groups), the internal dynamics and work of the campaign, the different roles and tasks of staff and volunteers in the campaigns, the way the media reports on the campaign, the students' reflections on these matters, and, at the end, a summary of the campaign strategy and outcome.

Students will also be required to email the supervising Occidental faculty member at least once a week about their activities and reflections. The students will be supervised in the field by a campaign staff member. Enrollment limited to students participating in the Campaign Semester Program. 8 units.

Politics 272 - Independent Study: Political Campaign Analysis

This course entails production of a 25-page research essay addressing a major question pertaining to campaigns in American politics. Each student will work with Campaign Semester faculty to craft a high-quality research paper that enters the academic debate on their selected topic, incorporates extensive secondary data and existing research, and presents original analysis based on the student's campaign fieldwork. Enrollment limited to students participating in the Campaign Semester Program. 4 units.