In the past, POLI/PWAD 457 was taught with the goal of allowing students to survey and explore quantitative research on political conflict by reading and discussing articles by various renowned professors.
“This year’s version of the course keeps that original spirit, but it’s unique in that now these professors are actually talking directly to the students through lectures and question and answer sessions,” Bapat said.
This new spin on POLI/PWAD 457 immediately caught the attention of students. During class registration, Bapat sent out an email to all political science, global studies and PWAD majors.
Within 10 minutes, the highly anticipated course was full, leading Bapat to increase enrollment multiple times.
“Once I saw that it featured professors from all these different amazing schools, I thought to myself, ‘How could someone say no to this?’” junior Madison Parks said. “So, I dropped a class and picked that one up instead in a matter of five minutes.”
Every week, students have a pre-recorded lecture, a discussion question assignment and a reading to complete on their own time, according to the class syllabus. Then, during class on Wednesday evenings, all of the POLI/PWAD 457 students from each of the participating universities attend a question and answer style webinar featuring a new scholar each week. Braumoeller and Croco moderate these weekly discussions.
“It’s really cool to be with and communicate with professors from universities like Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown who are on the front lines of new research,” senior Maddie Carney said. “I think that more departments should create their own ‘dream teams,’ so that hundreds of other lucky students can learn more about how to succeed in their field.”
As a PWAD and public policy double major, junior Isaiah Garner said he has enjoyed being able to sample a bit of everything within his field of study.
In his favorite lecture, “What Happens During a Military Coup?” — given by professor Naunihal Singh of the U.S. Naval War College — Garner was not only able to investigate a new concept, but he was also exposed to some real-world applications of his major.
“(Singh) was able to bring to light this entirely new theory that no one else had proposed before and is now making a new mark in his field about how students should be taught about coups and what we know about them,” Garner said. “I thought that was so cool and that’s something that I hope I can do one day.”
In order to accommodate varying fall semester start dates, Bapat and Singh, the first two professors in the speaker series, will repeat their talks in December.
Though students have currently only seen around a third of the speaker lineup, many have said that they are already impressed not only by the wealth of knowledge each of the guest lecturers possess, but also by the overall user-friendly structure of the course.
“This course has completely stripped away my preconceived notions of online classes,” Parks said. “(Bapat) has truly turned what seems like a chaotic idea into a clear cut, diamond-level learning experience.”