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Political Communication at American University

The political communication program is a jointly-administered program between the School of Public Affairs and the School of Communication. It combines some of the best aspects of strategic
communication and the political science. The program is actually small enough for you
to actually get to know your professors. Each student has an identity in the program,
I know each student. You do get very close with each other. We’re able to draw guest lecturers from industry,
who are kind of at the top of their field. People who are actually working currently
in the field or did have really amazing jobs–kind of dream jobs. Listening to people who do this every single
day and having access to them and being able to build relationships with them and network
with them. I’ve had a speechwriter for President Clinton;
communications director for President Reagan. We dissected one of the Obama 2012 ads with
the man who produced it. They get to meet the people who are actually
doing the things that people in other universities are merely studying. There’s no better place to come and do this. Because we’re right here in Washington, we’re
able to keep the program so fresh with everything that’s going on. During the presidential election we took students
to New Hampshire to cover the primary as journalists. New Hampshire was a really eye-opening experience
for me. I got to interview Ben Carson. I got to meet Hillary Clinton off-the-record. The Campaign Management Institute and the
Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute help our students understand what it’s like to
be in the real-world of political communications. And they learn about strategy, theme and message. You run a campaign in seven days. It was probably the most intense two weeks
of my life. I met so many people and I really count that
program as getting me my job right now. What the capstone really is, is what I call
“your calling card.” It allowed me to do research on something
that I’m very passionate about: gentrification. LGBT leadership and politics in the media. If men and women in the Senate speak differently
and how they approach their floor speeches. We’ve had students who have done documentary
on political advertising. That’s been in several film festivals. You can immerse in focus group research; you
can understand everything about the millennial generation. When you leave American University, you can
say to somebody, “I know everything about this issue. Here’s evidence of it. Hire me. I get it.” This semester we have a student at the Democratic
Governors Association doing some digital work there. We have a student at the White House. It just was a great experience to actually
apply everything that we had already learned into something real. In this political climate, which is so polarized,
people need to figure out a way to talk to each other, not past each other. Political communication gives you those skills. The program allowed me to start the work that
I’m super passionate about–giving voice to underrepresented populations. We had an original vision when we created
this program, which is to attract people who care deeply about our democracy and our society,
and to give them the tools and the insights and the knowledge to make a difference. When you look at our list of alums, the people
who have gone out in the world, that’s exactly what we’ve done.

One Reply to “Political Communication at American University”

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