Back to School: My electionlineWeekly Guest Column on UMN Classes 2017-18

[Image via hckids]

I have a guest column in the August 17 electionlineWeekly highlighting the University of Minnesota’s new undergraduate certificate program and (re)introducing the course catalog for 2017-18:

For two years now, the Election Academy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs has been offering graduate-level online courses as part of its Certificate in Election Administration (CEA) program.

I’ve been honored to develop and teach several courses alongside my Humphrey colleague Larry Jacobs as well as leading members of the election community like Dana Chisnell, Whitney Quesenbery and Tammy Patrick.

And yet, even as the program grew I heard from many members of the election community that they were unable to participate because the program required a bachelor’s degree. That’s why I’m delighted to announce that, starting this fall, the CEA program has received University approval to launch an undergraduate certificate for anyone seeking to deepen and broaden their understanding of election administration.

The undergraduate certificate will closely match the existing graduate program, with slightly different requirements – but the same focus on essential and cutting-edge knowledge in the field of elections. The program is open to anyone with one year or more of experience in election administration or a related field.

Here are the courses we currently offer –

Core Courses (required) (3000-level are undergrad, 5000-level grad)
PA 3969/5971 – Survey of Election Administration (3.0 cr) (Chapin): Comprehensive course on the general building blocks of election administration from voter registration to recounts. Focus on the “three tensions” (central vs. local control, access vs. integrity, fairness vs. finality) and how they play out in practice.

PA 3972/5972 – Elections and the Law (3.0 cr) (Chapin): An introduction to legal concepts that play out in election administration at the federal, state, and local level and how they guide the conduct of elections by officials and voters alike. Focus on authority, pre-emption and basic legal reasoning.

PA 3973/5973 – Strategic Management of Election Administration (2.0 cr) (Jacobs): Strategic management for election administrators in the political environment. The course will cover the distinct phases and hurdles of the policy process and skills for election officials to enact new policy.

Capstone Project (required)
PA 3974/5974 – Election Administration Capstone Project (2.0 cr) (Chapin): Students are invited to identify an election administration issue or problem in a jurisdiction of their choice and proceed to research best practices and possible solutions and write a final paper or prepare a presentation on their findings.

Elective Courses (2 or more credits required)
PA 3975/5975 – Election Design (2.0 cr) (Dana Chisnell/Whitney Quesenbery): An innovative course on design principles and how they are used in election administration. Through small, weekly assignments you will learn and practice new skills in plain language, design, and usability with real election materials.

PA 3976/5976 – Voter Outreach and Participation (1.0 cr) (Chapin): (NEW! Fall 2017) Why do some voters turnout while others don’t? This course investigates the patterns and history of voter participation and practical steps to increase voter turnout, particularly in traditionally under-represented populations.

PA 3982/5982 – Data Analysis for Election Administration (2.0 cr) (Tammy Patrick): This course will highlight the importance of evidence-based election administration, which focuses on collection and analysis of quantitative data to solve problems and identify opportunities for improvement. There will be an emphasis on pre-election forecasting for planning purposes as well as post-election auditing of election results.

If you are interested in more details about the program, check out the program here or contact my colleague Lea Chittenden at Deadlines are rapidly approaching!

We’re excited to see the Certificate in Election Administration program grow; the field of elections is changing and becoming more complex every day – and we want to be sure that everyone in the community has an opportunity to explore new ideas and deepen their knowledge and understanding of key issues and ideas in election administration.

Thanks to everyone at the Humphrey School (especially new Dean and longtime friend of the program Laura Bloomberg) and the University of Minnesota who made this possible. We’re still accepting students for this fall’s courses – if either of our programs interests you, please reach out- we’d love to have you join us!

There’s still time to join us for this fall’s classes; our first group of certificate graduates is already hard at work in the field and we are ready to help you join them! Don’t just look at that shiny new Trapper Keeper – come join us … and as always, stay tuned!

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