FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Sacred Heart University in Fairfield is engaging its students, faculty and community in this year’s election with weekly podcasts on its online forum, SHUsquare.
The forum is led by Professor Gary Rose, a political science expert and chair of the government, politics and global studies department.
Rose has been producing podcasts on the election since February for SHUsquare’s SoundCloud website . He’s covered the caucuses, primaries and conventions with the help of students and staff.
Earlier this year, Rose described the election as a “rollercoaster.” Now that the Republican and Democratic parties have chosen their presidential candidates, he said a better word to describe the election is “a tornado, given the unpredictability and erratic movement of these creatures of nature.
"A tornado also arrives unexpectedly, much in the same way that the scandals and controversies have emerged in this election campaign," Rose said. "And like a tornado, there is very little that is predictable in this election contest with regard to its movement and level of destruction.”
The SHUsquare project, Sacred Heart University’s virtual teaching and learning commons, comes from the University’s Office of Digital Learning.
The project is spearheaded by Jaya Kannan, director of Digital Learning, and Professor Pilar Munday, SHUsquare faculty coordinator and associate professor of Spanish. They are supported by a team of students and the School of Communication and Media Arts.
Each week, Rose examines what has transpired since the previous podcast and boils it down into four or five talking points. “There is always enough to fill a 40- to 45-minute exchange from one week to the next,” he said. “Because there is never a dull moment in this contest, the talking points are easy to identify.”
Rose records his podcasts on Thursdays at 10 a.m., and they are released on Fridays.
Senior Bridget Hughes, a global studies major, worked with Rose on the podcasts throughout the spring semester. Communications professor Gregory Golda and Barbara Gerwien, coordinator for the Office of Digital Learning, filled in while Hughes interned in California for the political data analysis company, Crowdpac.
Hughes said her role with the podcasts started out as more “behind the scenes.” She mostly worked on content development with Rose and helped to coordinate with the Office of Digital Learning. “Luckily, Dr. Rose decided an interview format was more functional and asked me to join him on the podcast,” Hughes said.
Though she enjoyed her internship in San Francisco, she is excited to get back to SHU.
“I’ll be back on the podcast once the semester resumes. I’m really looking forward to discussing potential changes to the electoral map this cycle. Dr. Rose brings a great deal of historical knowledge to presidential politics that is really illuminating when examining two unprecedented candidates like [Hillary] Clinton and [Donald] Trump.”
Compiling the election podcasts has been a rewarding and educational experience, Rose said.
“What I especially like is the exchange that takes place between me and the individuals who are conducting the interviews,” he said. “The exchange is, in many ways, a dialogue rather than a typical question-and-answer interview. This contributes to a multi-dimensional discussion of the issues and candidates. The exchanges on the podcasts also keep me primed for subsequent radio and television interviews.”
Since the podcast series began, it has garnered more than 1,500 plays with listeners from 35 countries. “Knowing that we have a global audience is what makes the podcasts so necessary and is why they have to be done with precision,” Rose said.
“The podcasts are a reflection of the University, so they have to be done professionally and in a very intelligent manner. I know that some podcasts in the political world are ideological rants, but ours is not. The SHU podcast has to be done in an objective manner; otherwise it will lose credibility.”
To listen to the podcasts, click here .
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