Short Course: Rude Politics and College Students’ Political Engagement

Rude Politics and College Students’ Political Engagement

J. Cherie Strachan
1:30 pm – 5:30pm

This short course, sponsored by the Consortium for Intercampus SoTL Research (CISR) and the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) explores solutions for college students’ reactions to rude politics. College students’ disinterest in traditional political participation may result from increasing levels of political incivility in contemporary politics. Negative and polarizing political discourse since 2008 has been characterized by name-calling, interruptions, and yelling – on the campaign trail, in meetings with constituents, and even on the floors of our legislatures. If our students believe that participating in politics requires them to pick a side and join the brawl, it is little wonder some may be reluctant to engage in traditional politics. Further, while rude politics may suppress political interest across the board, these egregious examples of political incivility might have an especially chilling effect on women and minorities, both of whom may find it hard to envision themselves imitating these highly-visible, aggressive public figures.

It is important to determine whether rude politics squelches students’ political ambition and interest, as this reaction will make promoting political engagement on our campuses even more difficult. It may also suppress political science’s efforts to attract and train diverse future political leaders. This short course reviews preliminary results from a multi-campus on-line experiment assessing student reactions to rude political behavior. Students on participating campuses were randomly assigned to review videos of civil or uncivil political behavior prior to taking an on-line post-test questionnaire. During the short course, insights gained from their responses will be used to develop and recommend curricular interventions intended to re-engage young people in politics. Materials from this short course may also be used to persuade college administrators that additional efforts to promote civic and political engagement, and to fulfill higher education’s civic mission, must be undertaken in order to counteract the effect of incivility in the broader political environment.


**All Short Courses will take place on Wednesday, August 29 at the APSA 2018 Annual Meeting in Boston, MA.**