The Iowa Caucuses will be the topic of a class taught at Iowa State University this fall. ISU Political Science Professor Steffen Schmidt will teach the online course, which will last seven weeks beginning October 15th. Originally, Schmidt planned for 75 students, but now has more than 120.
"There is a lot of interest in it," Schmidt says, "it kind of seems to be matching the upswing in the number of political science majors we’re seeing. The numbers are going back up this year." The course will cover the history of the Iowa Caucuses, including some the more interesting years.
"When Jimmy Carter suddenly bubbled to the surface, and became the candidate and then the president," Schmidt says, "the magic of Iowa as a place to hone your message kind of became legendary. We’ll also talk about the ‘(Howard) Dean scream’ and how Iowa can kill you politically, because there’s so much focus on it." The course will also focus heavily on the upcoming caucuses and how new technology has made the 2008 cycle much different than four years ago.
Schmidt says, "Candidates have lost control of their message because anybody with a halfway decent working computer can create a satirical commercial and pop it on YouTube and get a million hits. It’s a different world." Schmidt says a lot of non-major students are signed up for the class, simply because they’re interest in politics.
"It’ll be a lot of fun," Schmidt says, "because we’ll have some Democrats and Republicans, and they’ll probably go at each other’s throats and start really arguing hard." The class is worth two credits, but Schmidt says he’s also offering a non-credit class that will cover the same material. More information about the course is available at www.IowaCaucusClass.com .