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A Change In Political Science Education Is Coming

HBCU students in Florida are experiencing a change in their current political science education heading into a monumental election season, here’s how things are being taught differently.

HBCU students say the 2020 presidential election is already changing how HBCU professors teach political science, and how they engage with politics in the classroom. Faculty and staff are encouraging HBCU students to recognize the multitude of unique crises the world is experiencing and relate them to their studies.

Makira Burns

Sophomore political science major Makira Burns explained that education at HBCUs allows students to, “truthfully discuss [their] struggles as Black people in America with no filter.”

Those discussions are harder to have online due to the pandemic. In April, Florida Memorial University provost Adrienne T. Cooper released a statement to the student body acknowledging as much.

“The faculty of Florida Memorial University recognize that these are challenging and extraordinary times, which require flexibility and understanding,” she said. One way the election has changed the curriculum includes professors’ examination of social media use by politicians in major races.

Racaiim McKain

Both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have released celebrity campaign videos, ads and made use of various other social media platforms in ways past campaigns couldn’t. Racaiim McKain, a freshman political science student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), said students can see in real-time how the presidential candidate from each major party uses their online presence to try to influence voters.

“We break down some of the President’s tweets in class as they are now not looked at as controversial but the new norm for politicians,” he said. There is one thing that has been emphasized more than ever in the political science curriculum: voting and the process of doing so.

At Edward Waters College, for example, the college held virtual watch parties for the presidential debates and centered chapel services and rallies around the election. McKain believes his professors have better helped him understand the country’s realities because of this presidential election. Professors have shied away from neutrality within their teaching and have provided a transparent view of the state of the nation for their students.

“The current circumstances that we face are a threat to America’s democracy as we have two front running candidates that have two different end goals, but both put the American people at the least of their priorities,” he said.

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