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Stanford Scholars Analyze the 2016 U.S. Election

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The university is making course content and expert interviews about this historic election available to the general public

BY SIMON FIRTH

 
Anyone looking for insights into the upcoming U.S. election contests — widely viewed as the most consequential in decades — can find expert analysis from both Stanford faculty and distinguished visiting scholars in three notable efforts this Autumn, each offering resources online.
 
“Our hope is to help people understand what is new, different, and unique about this moment in history from a scholarly, non-partisan perspective,” explained Petra Dierkes-Thrun, VPTL Director of Strategic Initiatives. “We’re excited to make these resources available to our own community, to our alumni, and to anyone else in the general population here or abroad with an interest in the 2016 American election.”
 
Most prominent of these Stanford efforts is Wide Angle: Election 2016, a collaborative online public information project that examines the forces shaping the current election in the form of short videos and in-depth interviews with Stanford faculty and guests, that points to election-related research and scholarship being undertaken on campus. 
 
Wide Angle is a creation of Stanford’s Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL), the Stanford News Service, and Worldview Stanford, which provides interdisciplinary professional education through a mixture of online and on campus experiences.  
 
Featured speakers include economists Raj Chetty and Emmanuel Saez, political scientists Margaret Levi and Emilee Chapman, humanists Albert Camarillo and Paula Moya, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, and political strategist Mike McCurry, and others.. 
 
“Wide Angle: Election 2016 is also a pilot project for future collaboration that will further our joint mission to address subjects of public note through teaching, research, and public outreach,” said Dierkes-Thrun. “What we’re doing here is creating another public learning opporunity — sharing knowledge generated at Stanford as widely as possible.” 
 
Many Wide Angle: Election 2016 interviewees have appeared as speakers in Autumn Quarter courses that are examining the 2016 election as it happens. In two of these courses, speaker contributions are also being recorded and shared with the public online. 
 
One of these classes, Election 2016, for example,  aims to “make sense of an election that defies all historical precedent and to take stock of the health of American democracy,” to quote its syllabus. Led by historian David Kennedy, political scientist Rob Reich,  and CEO of Common Sense Media and CSRE Stanford lecturer Jim Steyer, the course features more than a dozen visiting speakers, all of whose comments are being recorded and shared on the course website and on Stanford YouTube.
 
Election 2016 is being offered as both a Stanford Continuing Studies lecture course and as a live-streamed online course for current undergraduate and graduate students. Thanks to technical support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, the two groups are participating in a shared online discussion forum created specifically for the class, enabling a first-of-its-kind cross-generational dialog about the election.  
 
Another Autumn Quarter class, Presidential Politics: Race, Gender, and Inequality in the 2016 Election,  is an undergraduate course co-taught by political scientist Gary Segura, sociologist Tomás Jiménez, and English professor Paula Moya, all of whom are affiliated with Stanford’s Undergraduate Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.  
 
Lectures from the course are being captured by the Stanford Center for Professional Development in conjunction with VPTL and shared on Stanford’s YouTube channel. They are also open the public, with several hundred seats in the Nvidia Auditorium available on a first-come-first-served basis. 
 

“Each of these efforts to extend the reach of our research and pedagogy at Stanford are part of a larger VPTL initiative that we’ve been building this year around the election,” noted Dierkes-Thrun. “It’s an example of how we seek to improve teaching and learning at Stanford for both our residential and online learners—and how we’re always looking for ways to share the instructional resources we support with the broader public as well.”