RNC 101 Helps Freshmen Connect with Campus and Civics

Published: Aug 22, 2012
RNC 101 will educate students on the political process with topics such as elections and the role of political parties, the purposes of the nominating convention and the role of the press.
RNC 101 will educate students on the political process with topics such as elections and the role of political parties, the purposes of the nominating convention and the role of the press.
While some UT freshmen might be fired up by politics, there are others who might be more confused about the hoopla happening just over the river. The 2012 Republican National Convention held in Tampa next week is something neither will be able to ignore.

“The RNC will no doubt cause inconveniences, but we feel strongly that the event presents unique opportunities for students to experience democracy in action, and it is my hope that curricular and co-curricular areas take every advantage of what this engagement has to offer,” said Linda Devine, vice president for operations and planning.

As such, the nearly 1,500 freshmen attending orientation this week will be introduced to campus and to Blackboard, the University’s software program used in course delivery, with a political twist. RNC 101 will educate students on the political process with topics such as elections and the role of political parties, the purposes of the nominating convention and the role of the press, all while utilizing the many functions in Blackboard, software they will need throughout their years at UT.

“This is one effort the University is making to help students connect with each other and with the campus,” said Scott Paine, associate professor of communication and government and world affairs, who wrote the curriculum for the RNC 101 module.

Paine has served on the Tampa City Council and on several state policy task forces and commissions.

“Politics has been an important part of my life in one way or another,” Paine said. “Watching the RNC unfold is exciting, and making this interesting to students who might not otherwise be interested in public policy has been an interesting puzzle for me.”

RNC 101 is a module within Gateways, the First Year Experience course all freshmen are required to take to help them acclimate to University life, become familiar with University computer systems and connect to other students, faculty and staff. Beginning Aug. 21, students will navigate their way through six units, one for each day leading up to the start of the convention, first on their own and then in small group discussions in their Gateways classes.

“We want students to get a sense of what the convention is going to be like,” Paine said, “and to get an idea of what’s going to happen here between now and Monday.”

Starting Aug. 27, students will follow Paine’s blog where there will be links to news stories and daily posts about activities at the convention. Students will have the opportunity to post their own blogs with their feedback and interpretations of their own RNC experiences.

After the convention, Paine will post follow-up comments on how the convention went, videos and links to other blogs, discuss news coverage of the event and encourage students to reflect on what they learned.

“If they come away with a sense that they know something now about the political process that they didn’t before, that’ll be great,” Paine said.

More importantly though, he said, “I hope this will prompt students to interact more with each other and come away more connected to each other and to campus.”


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