On October 22, Lynn University will welcome President Obama and the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, to its campus, in Boca Raton, Fla., for their third and final presidential debate. By then, Lynn’s 1,600 students should be well prepared for the rhetorical battle, thanks to 80 classes related to the presidency and political debates that the private, nonprofit university added to its catalog for the fall semester.
Shortly after the college learned last fall that it had won the right to host one of the presidential debates, Gregg C. Cox, vice president for academic affairs, says he “immediately went to the faculty and said, ‘Here’s an opportunity. We’ve got something right here on our campus that will help ignite some excitement in our students.’”
Mr. Cox asked the faculty to examine existing courses and seek to tailor the material in ways that would complement the October 22 event. In addition, professors proposed about 20 new courses on the theme. “The faculty really jumped on board,” Mr. Cox says.
When Lynn students registered for the new academic year last spring, they could choose courses on the current state of American health care, statistics as they are used in the news media, the history of the Secret Service, and the presidency in film, among others. There were also a number of courses devoted to presidential and other political debates in history and in practice, including “Lincoln-Douglas Debate” and “Rude Democracy—Words, Sticks, and Stones.”
“As we know, when it comes to politics, there’s a lot of apathy in this age group,” Mr. Cox says. While the students earn credit for the debate-related classes, Mr. Cox adds, he hopes that they will also “become participants in the process, they will really pay attention to the issues, they will watch all of the debates, and they will vote, and they will make some informed decisions when they do vote.”