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Interactive Course Gives Students First-Hand Knowledge of NH Primary

November 17, 2015

Laura Lemire
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7242

Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis speaks with students during NH Primary courseSince the start of the fall semester, Saint Anselm students and students from The George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C., have been meeting virtually once a week to hear guest speakers and discuss the NH Primary. It is part of a partnership between Saint Anselm, GW, and The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), giving students in both D.C. and N.H. the opportunity to hear from leading political thinkers during a very busy primary season in New Hampshire.

In addition to the interactive sessions, Saint Anselm College's course, PO444, New Hampshire Primary, meets twice a week during the day with Professor Christopher Galdieri. The course is designed to provide the students with essential context, such as how the New Hampshire Primary came to occupy its role in American politics.

Students are also examining the primary's influence on presidential candidates and elections, the role of parties, interest groups, and media in presidential primaries and campaigns, and whether the primary should keep its place at the beginning of the nominating process.

"For me, it's answered the question, ‘why is New Hampshire important in politics?'" says junior politics major Phoebe Ferraiolo. "We talk about current events and apply the course material to what's going on. It helps that we have real life examples."

Students are required to present weekly presentations, attend two campaign events (1R; 1D), and present a campaign project analyzing the New Hampshire Primary contest from a particular party and year.

Coming from California where he says voters are not as engaged, sophomore politics major Garrett Meyer has found the course particularly fascinating.

"Taking this course and experiencing New Hampshire politics for myself is immensely eye-opening. Not only does it give me first-hand knowledge of the primary's institutional norms, but it allows me to understand New Hampshire's extremely vital role in choosing a party's nominee," says Meyer.

The video conferencing has introduced students to various politicians, campaign staffers, and journalists including Democratic strategist James Carville, Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY'S List, political consultant Matthew Rhoades, and Yahoo! News columnist Matt Bai.

"Collaborating with GW also enables students like myself to listen to influential figures that personally play a part in the presidential election process," says Meyer.

"I think that the interplay between Saint Anselm and GW students in the Q&A with guest lecturers has been really robust," says Professor Gregory Lebel who is teaching the GW course. "Tom Rath, who spoke to students from New Hampshire, was a real hit with our students because of his deep roots in the New Hampshire presidential primary process."

The week of October 23, the GW class traveled to New Hampshire to volunteer with a presidential campaign of their choice and visit Saint Anselm College.

On Friday, both classes gathered in the West Wing of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP), to meet former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic Nominee Michael Dukakis. Mr. Dukakis talked about his success in the 1988 New Hampshire primary and his own experience running a presidential campaign.

"There's nothing like being in a position where you can make a difference," said Mr. Dukakis. "I hope you will think about getting involved in campaigns as long as you don't compromise your integrity and live moderately."

Professor Galdieri was pleased with the success of Mr. Dukakis' visit, and with the success of the program overall.

"The course is going well - we have a lot of students who are engaged in the primary, and the course has given them a great opportunity to learn from a wide range of people, from candidates to practitioners to authors. It would be good to continue our working relationship with our friends at GW," he says.

The New Hampshire Primary course continues until Wednesday, December 9.

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