GSPM launches programs in online politics and campaign strategy

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The Graduate School of Political Management launched two new certificate programs this semester in hopes of attracting graduate students who hope to work on online campaigns.

The online politics certificate focuses on the relationship between the political world and new, Internet-based media. The campaign strategy certificate is designed to teach students how to write campaign plans and then organize and implement plans through the building of a budget and staff.

“We’ve taught the subject matter for a very long time, but we didn’t put the courses together into standalone certificates until spring,” GSPM Associate Dean Charles Cushman said. “It made sense since they went together very nicely.”

The purpose of the online politics certificate is to develop an understanding of the Internet as a tool for policy making through courses about videography, multimedia, networking, and fundraising, said Julie Germany, Director of the GSPM Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet.

“We had one course that dealt with the Internet and changing technology in the political space. It just wasn’t enough. A lot of our students get their feet into the political world through the Internet. We wanted to create something that would give them the skill set that they needed,” Germany said.

GSPM alumnus Matthew Zablud will teach an online campaign strategy and tactics class next summer, covering online grassroots organizing and online ethics. He said hopes the online and classroom components will facilitate dialogue about the various aspects of a successful online campaign.

“Instead of looking at how you build a Web site, the class is going to look at an IKEA instruction manual or newspaper graphics,” Zablud said. “They will examine the way information is graphically represented through data visualization techniques. Then they will come back and talk about how we build a Web site that conveys messages visually.”

There are currently only two students working toward the certificate in online politics and no students in campaign strategy certificate program. The school plans on advertising both programs heavily with hopes that the 2010 Congressional elections will help boost its popularity.

“Both of the programs are targeted at jobs in politics. Every campaign is expected to have a solid website and that both your field operation as well as your communication operation aimed at the media is online savvy,” Cushman said. “There are tons of opportunities.”

Courses offered in the two disciplines are available to GSPM students pursuing other tracks as well.

Since the certificate programs are only 18 credits, Cushman believes very few students will stop with just one certificate.

“Once they get into it they realize this is great, and it’s exactly what they are looking for,” Cushman said.

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