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Hands-on government course part of Luna’s eight-week lineup starting Oct. 12

Practical learning is common in a Jason Killian-taught class. Students in his eight-week American National Government class will not only learn from books and theory lectures, they will experience, hands-on, how the national government works. This includes the three branches of government and the concepts behind them.

Eight-week courses at Luna begin on Monday, Oct. 12. The last day to register is Friday, Oct. 16.

“We will be digging into what influences individuals who work in government,” said Killian. “We will cover how the three branches interact with one another, how the national government interacts with state governments and how an individual is elected into these positions. We will wrap up by covering political parties and lobbying. It’s a comprehensive, eight-week class aimed at delivering the overview in an interactive, engaging way.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of the class will be that students will be able to run for president of the United States coinciding with the real thing in November.

Luna Humanities instructor Jason Killian believes in bringing course material to life through practical, hands-on exercises that resonate more with students than traditional lectures and study materials.

“Students will be asked to pick a political affiliation,” said Killian. “However, more than one person may run, so it’s entirely possible to see multiple Republicans, Democrats and third parties like Libertarian run at the same time. While this is not how an election normally runs, we’re starting with this approach to build interest in the class.”

Killian said any student in the class is eligible to run. Students will campaign as a requirement of the class, including raising mock funds from academic and non-academic departments. The winner will choose his or her vice president, with the only requirement that the VP has to be a student of Luna.

“The entire campus, from students to administration, will be eligible to vote,” said Killian. “A Google poll will go out through the Luna everyone (e-mail) address to allow anyone interested to vote. Students will need to fundraise and campaign just like a real election. We can think of departments as representing the states, with faculty and staff representing counties. Our students would represent the voters. We will create a fake money system, or Luna Bucks, that are allocated to departments, faculty and staff and students who wish to participate.

“Individuals may then donate their Luna Bucks to their candidate. They may donate because they like the candidate, the candidate is the same party as them or because the candidate is addressing an issue or concern, they have. Just like real life, each group will have a different amount of money. Will candidates focus on a grassroots effort and target the voters? Or will they court the ‘corporations’ and go to directors and heads of departments? While we are taking some liberties because it is a classroom still, I’m hoping to keep the methods behind an election as close as possible to reality.”

According to Killian, upon winning the election, the student will be the “president of Luna for a day” and will be working with Interim President Dr. Kenneth Patterson.

“The student will get to see what running an institution is all about,” said Killian. “From prior conversations, it sounds like the student will be allowed to participate in select functions, such as presenting the president’s report to the (LCC) Board of Trustees. We’re currently still working out the details, but it sounds promising and a great opportunity.”

In an attempt to provide students with speaking experience, there are two scheduled debates. However, students may hold events such as town halls and discussions with various departments and voters in order to build up their platforms.

“Students are strongly encouraged to engage in more activities besides the two mandatory debates,” said Killian. “Currently, the idea is an academic department and a non-academic department debate. Students will need to research what issues are facing various departments at Luna. Some questions will be made available in advance out of fairness, but students will need to do their homework. It’s one thing to promise no homework to the student body; however, that could definitely miss the mark with faculty!”

“We could teach it straight out of the book; however, this tends to bore students,” said Killian. “They want to be engaged. So while there is still bookwork and traditional lecture, this method will allow students to actively participate in the class and help develop their comprehension of the system. By blending traditional lectures with hands-on, I hope to bring the topic to life and present the material in a new way that will excite students.”

Killian said he would like to continue this type of format for this class in the coming years.

“Normally, this is a 16-week class so I’m not sure how it will change next year, but I would like to keep it going,” said Killian. “This exercise covers a lot of material that many students seem to tune out on or struggle with. I believe it could be a very successful teaching exercise.”

Due to COVID-19 regulations, Killian will be using Blackboard for instruction.

“I’m looking to use Zoom or Google Meet to facilitate our debates and other events, such as town halls,” said Killian. “I would also like to explore the possibility of a public forum where members of Luna can post questions for the candidates so they can answer. I will be discussing that with IT.”

“What’s fascinating is that even with the current COVID issues, these activities can still happen and even increase the reach. Individuals who may have to drive an hour to make a debate can now participate by jumping online. It’s an exciting prospect.”

Killian said he would primarily be utilizing the college’s Blackboard page to manage behind-the-scenes activities, such as classwork and finances. For the debates, Killian is hoping to use Google Meet or Zoom. Killian said he hopes to use The Luna Light and the college’s Facebook page.

“It would be awesome if students could use their funds to buy things like ad space to help boost their campaigns,” said Killian.

The final speeches are set for Monday, Nov. 23, just before Thanksgiving break. The election will run from Tuesday, Nov. 24, to Sunday, Nov. 29. As part of the final, he will have a swearing-in ceremony and announce the winner.

“With an election year upon us, I find it crucial to show students why this process matters,” said Killian. “We tend to see a very low voter turnout especially with our youth. By providing them this opportunity, I hope to bring real life into the classroom. We often hear ‘how will this affect my life’ when students take a class. By bringing the topic to life and placing it in their hands, I hope to show our students how events like these impact their lives. It becomes more than a grade. It becomes more than a lecture. It’s now real to them. It’s exciting. It’s fun. And it matters to them.”