Every Four Years, Students Head Down the Road to the White House

Sarah M Roberts

The Institue of Politics on JFK Street sponsors policy groups that are started and staffed by undergraduates, and now it hosts more groups than ever.

Because Harvard doesn't already present enough ways for students to get politically involved, every four years the school offers Gov 1359: Road to the White House.

Taught by Lecturer on Government Carlos E. Díaz Rosillo, the class meets twice a week and teaches students the fundamentals of a presidential campaign. Lecture topics include the effect that debates have on elections, how candidates prepare for public speaking, and the presidential image that candidates are expected to exude.

Starting with the nomination and caucus processes and moving all the way through the final vote, the class discusses the campaign from multiple perspectives. In addition to the expected political science analysis of how campaigns are run, students use data to analyze the efficacy of polling methods and, according to the course syllabus, must "incorporate the insights of historians, economists, journalists, and campaign insiders."

"I feel like it's given me a really good perspective of what it takes to run a successful campaign," said Akshay M. Sharma '14. "We've gone over things that as an American I had been exposed to my entire life but had never been able to fully appreciate. The amount of planning and detail and the production value that goes into a presidential election is incredible."

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