U second school in nation to offer campaign management minor

This fall is the first semester in which the U has offered a minor specifically tailored to the needs of students who want to run, or help others run, or help others run, for political office.

With the addition of the campaign management minor, the U became the second university in the nation to teach its students theory and practices that will help them participate in election and advocacy campaigns.

“This minor is yet another way for students to distinguish themselves,” said Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Kirk Jowers, who also oversees the interdisciplinary minor through the College of Social and Behavioral Science.

The campaign management minor is currently offered to students who have declared a major at the U and completed the American Institutions requirement.

Students are required to complete a political internship through the Hinckley Institute of Politics and complete 21 to 24 units of courses from the departments of philosophy, communication and political science.

“This is truly interdisciplinary, inter-college programming,” said Steve Ott, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science. “We have a beautiful internship program going, and we’re wrapping academics around it now.”

Jowers said the minor would be useful both to political science students looking to focus their studies and those from other areas of study looking to turn their political interests into a minor to accompany their degree.

“The election industry involves about $5 billion per year and needs campaign managers, consultants, lawyers, mass mailers, TV, radio and Internet communicators and others,” Jowers said.

“And our students will be better prepared than their peers from other institutions to compete in this arena and this minor will help establish that fact. Moreover, regardless of students’ interest in making campaigns a profession, the skills learned and experience gained through this minor will enable students to more effectively participate in politics for the rest of their lives.”

Ott said he hopes the minor will further in students a sense of civic engagement and an understanding of the political process.

“Even though it might lead to careers, this isn’t a career-development minor. This is civic engagement through politics,” Ott said. “We’re talking democracy. Not the dirty side of politics, but we’re talking about how we make our country better.”

The minor was established as a response to student requests for more campaign tools to enable them to perform within leadership roles with political campaigns, according to a written statement. Six universities across the United States already have programs in campaign management, but they are offered only at the master’s degree level.

At the beginning of Fall Semester, five students, all political science majors, were working toward the minor. Jowers noted that political science does not offer a minor and many students have expressed an interest in politics as a secondary focus. Accordingly, he said he hopes students from other departments will declare in the future when more classes are added to the curriculum.

“I hope these classes will be directed a lot more to what I want to do,” said Karla Zimmerman, a political science major who served two Hinckley internships.

She said she likes the major because it’s focused directly on elections rather than the much more broad scope of government in general. However, she added that the classes she has taken so far have not pandered to what she was hoping to study. Zimmerman said she hoped that would change when she got into the political science courses in the minor sequence.

Ed Meier, a political science and economics major, who recently helped Eric Jergensen win another term in Salt Lake City Council, said he has enjoyed the minor so far.

“I’m absolutely planning on pursuing working with campaigns in the future,” Meier said. “I’m hoping the minor can propel me to be prepared to work on some larger campaigns. There’s only one other university in the nation that offers a degree in campaign management, and I’ll be among the first people to earn this degree. It’s definitely something I’m planning on using in the future.”

Meier, who has finished both his majors, returned to the U for a fifth year specifically to earn the minor. He said he was impressed by his initial course, Political Management, taught by City Councilman and former campaign manager Dave Buhler, and he hopes the minor will accompany his real-world experience in politics that he obtained through Hinckley Institute internships at the federal, state and local levels.

“I think it’s given me great exposure for the future,” Meier said. “We’ll see what happens.”

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