Sacred Heart University continues to engage its students, faculty and community in this year’s election with weekly podcasts on its online forum, SHUsquare.
Professor Gary Rose, a political science expert and chair of the government, politics and global studies department, has been producing the podcasts since February for SHUsquare’s SoundCloud website. He has covered the caucuses, primaries and conventions with the help of students and staff.
Earlier this year, Rose described the election as a rollercoaster, because everything was unpredictable and exciting. Now that the Republican and Democratic parties have chosen their presidential candidates, he said a better word to describe the election is “a tornado, given the unpredictability and erratic movement of these creatures of nature. A tornado also arrives unexpectedly, much in the same way that the scandals and controversies have emerged in this election campaign. And like a tornado, there is very little that is predictable in this election contest with regard to its movement and level of destruction.”
The SHUsquare project, Sacred Heart University’s virtual teaching and learning commons, originates from the Office of Digital Learning and showcases several elements of academic excellence. The project is spearheaded by Jaya Kannan (director, Digital Learning) and Professor Pilar Munday, (SHUsquare faculty coordinator and associate professor of Spanish), and ably supported by a team of students and the School of Communication and Media Arts. The SHUsquare team developed the plan for the political podcasts as a way to promote free intellectual exchange among faculty and students and to capture learning that continues outside the classroom.
Each week, Rose examines what has transpired since the previous podcast and tries to boil it down into four or five talking points. “There is always enough to fill a 40- to 45-minute exchange from one week to the next,” Rose said. “Because there is never a dull moment in this contest, the talking points are easy to identify.”
Rose records his podcasts on Thursdays, and they are released on Fridays. Senior Bridget Hughes, a global studies major, worked with Rose on the podcasts throughout the spring semester, but communications professor Gregory Golda and Barbara Gerwien, coordinator for the Office of Digital Learning, filled in while Hughes interned in California for the political data analysis company, Crowdpac.
Hughes said her role with the podcasts started out as more “behind the scenes.” She mostly worked on content development with Rose and helped to coordinate with the Office of Digital Learning. “Luckily, Dr. Rose decided an interview format was more functional and asked me to join him on the podcast,” Hughes said.
Though she enjoyed her internship in San Francisco, she is excited to return to SHU. “I’ll be back on the podcast once the semester resumes,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to discussing potential changes to the electoral map this cycle. Dr. Rose brings a great deal of historical knowledge to presidential politics that is really illuminating when examining two unprecedented candidates like [Hillary] Clinton and [Donald] Trump.”
Compiling the election podcasts has been a rewarding and educational experience, Rose said. “What I especially like is the exchange that takes place between me and the individuals who are conducting the interviews,” he said. “The exchange is, in many ways, a dialogue rather than a typical question-and-answer interview. This contributes to a multi-dimensional discussion of the issues and candidates. The exchanges on the podcasts also keep me primed for subsequent radio and television interviews.”
Since the podcast series began, it has garnered more than 1,990 plays with listeners from 39 countries. “Knowing that we have a global audience is what makes the podcasts so necessary and is why they have to be done with precision,” Rose said. “The podcasts are a reflection of the University, so they have to be done professionally and in a very intelligent manner. I know that some podcasts in the political world are ideological rants, but ours is not. The SHU podcast has to be done in an objective manner; otherwise it will lose credibility.”
“Dr. Rose has a rare gift,” noted Kannan “He knows how to engage the student in a deep analytical discussion, blurring the line between the traditional roles of student and teacher These podcasts are particularly powerful because Dr. Rose has empowered Rebecca to take charge of her learning. She often drives the conversation with her excellent preparation and research. I think that’s why these podcasts really add value and have had a global impact.”
To listen to the podcasts, click here.