UT only school to send students to national political seminar

January 17, 2013 | Features, UToday, — Languages, Literature and Social Sciences
By Casey Cheap

Nine University of Toledo students had the chance to review the 2012 presidential election last semester without the 24-hour cable news analysis.

A UT law and social thought class was able to view the election through the eyes of academic scholars, as the University was the only school to send students to attend a national conference at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.

The one-day conference was held Nov. 16 and consisted of presidential scholars from all over the country.

Although the academic conference targeted those in the political science field as opposed to students, the conference worked perfectly for potentially planning other curriculum in political science as well as law and social thought, according to Dr. Renee Heberle, associate professor of political science.

“We wanted to expose the students to a formal academic conference,” Heberle said. “We want to show them what critical analysis of contemporary politics looks like from an academic perspective as opposed to the perspective of the talking heads and pundits on cable television.”

Heberle said the event was scheduled in conjunction with Constitution Day and viewing the presidential debates. Every student involved wrote a paper on the experience for the class.

“The students were interested in this enough to take a full day and go to this conference,” she said. “I was impressed with their professionalism. UT and the Provost’s Office are giving students the opportunity to do something normally only a private liberal arts college will do.”

Some of the topics discussed at the conference included President Barack Obama’s strengths and weaknesses regarding leadership of his cabinet, the role former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism played during this election cycle, and how former President Bill Clinton aided President Obama’s re-election.

Kayla Notheis, a junior studying social work, said the conference was interesting and had a deep educational value.

“There were a variety of topics such as Obama’s psychology and Mitt Romney’s religion as well as Obama’s stance on gay marriage and the role of a rhetorical president,” she said. “I am very glad to have had the opportunity to broaden my perspectives on political science through this experience.”

Nick McCullough, a freshman studying political science, said that he found the evolution on President Obama’s views on gay marriage to be fascinating.

“It was definitely interesting looking at the election from a purely academic point of view,” McCollough said. “It was a great trip where we got the full view of both the candidates outside of party politics.”

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