This course introduces you to the complexities of the presidential primaries from a field engagement perspective. As the name indicates, The Presidential Campaign Trail Starts Here: The First Two Primaries” we will follow the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in the first two primary states of the 2024 presidential race.  These primaries are worth significant attention because they set the stage for what follows – the general presidential race that culminates in November 2024. That means, we will travel to the initial two state primaries that take place. You will have the opportunity to spend about 10 days in each location. Once there, you will talk with presidential candidates, hear what voters have to say about the issues that are important to them, and experience the buzz of our democracy in action.


You will engage in the experience by working as a journalist or as a political analyst. Additionally, everyone will spend time volunteering for campaigns at some point during the Winter Term. In the field, you will…

·      observe first-hand and document the structure of presidential primaries,

·      dissect how political parties organize these contests,

·      explore how politicians and their proxies participate in direct electioneering to stir up support for their campaign,

·      track voters’ impacts on elections, including voters from marginalized communities,

·      monitor media coverage of the primaries and attend Q&A briefings with candidates or campaign staffers, and

·      evaluate how the timing of these primaries – and the vast media attention given to the “winners” – impacts a candidate’s chance of making or reviving their campaign.


By engaging in these activities, you will be able to critically evaluate the electoral and nomination processes overall, and what these processes reveal about our values as a democratic nation. You will also be able to analyze the impact of the primaries on our future. You will also become deeply aware of our roles and responsibilities as citizens.


4 sh


Required pre-requisite: GBL 1070

Course Types

Society; Experiential Learning Requirement


  • Winter


Application, acceptance and additional travel fee required.

Course Outcomes

  1. I. Global Engagement Goal #1. Develop self-awareness and self-confidence through exposure to and reflection on difference.

    A. Learning Objective: We will analyze the structure of presidential primaries and how the political parties organize them. We will explore the role of political campaigns and voter impacts in these processes, and evaluate what these actors and processes reveal about our values as a democratic nation, and how those values compare to our own. We will then examine regional differences in values, demographics, and political interests based on where we are visiting as compared to where we are from.

    B. Assessment: Journalism and Political Analysis Reporting (4 x 10 pts. each)
    You will engage in this experience by working as a journalist and as a political analyst (not at the same time). In both cases, interaction with voters will play a significant role in gaining an understanding of values, demographics, and political interests. You will interview voters in the field to gauge attitudes and sentiments on the political issues driving voters to the polls. Four reports—one each in print, TV, radio, and social media—will be required and due by the day’s end (due dates to be determined) while on location.

    II. Global Engagement Goal #2: Problem-solve and function within an unfamiliar context.

    A. Learning Objective: As campaign volunteers, you will experience first-hand the primary process in each state by identifying campaign offices and engaging with them by offering your assistance. You must work with both democratic and republican campaign offices and use these novel experiences as an opportunity for comparison.

    B. Assessment: Campaign Volunteer Brief (2 x 10 pts. each)
    After volunteering for democratic and republic campaign offices in one state, you will write a brief that describes the work done in each of the campaign offices, the challenges you see that each office faces, how they might overcome those challenges, and other insights gathered from talking with campaign staffers. Conclude your brief with an analysis of two significant differences that exist between the democratic and republican campaign offices.

    III. Global Engagement Goal #3: Interact and communicate effectively with those from another culture or background using appropriate cultural and linguistic strategies.

    A. Learning Objective: You will interact with a variety of important actors—voters, journalists, political analysts, politicians, and their staffs—on the ground in this presidential campaign. We are in their communities and have an opportunity to learn a tremendous amount from them, but only if we open ourselves up to that opportunity in a respectful and culturally aware way.

    B. Assessment: Journal (15 pts.)
    You will keep a journal throughout the course that encourages reflection of your personal goals, your interactions with others, and your learning takeaways. While you are encouraged to free-write a daily journal (no prompt given, no grade assigned), six of the journal entries are required. Minimum 250 words per journal entry.

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