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POL 57 — Election 2020: A Panoramic View of America’s Decisive Election

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 9 weeks
Date(s): Sep 21—Nov 16
Time: 5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Sep 23
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $385
Status: Open
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Live Online(About Formats)
5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Sep 21—Nov 16
9 weeks
Drop By
Sep 23
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Students are eligible for a 20% tuition discount if they enroll in both POL 57: “Election 2020: A Panoramic View of America's Decisive Election” and POL 58: “Technology and the 2020 Election." Students will receive an email receipt when the refund is issued. Please allow one week for processing.

Course Description:

We are living in extraordinary times. The historic convergence of social, economic, and public health challenges has profoundly impacted the lives of millions of Americans. In the midst of great uncertainty, the 2020 US presidential election will be perhaps the most important in our lifetimes. Will Donald J. Trump win reelection amid high unemployment, deep political polarization, and the COVID-19 pandemic that has upended life as we know it? Or will Joe Biden and a team of Democrats prevail? We will assemble a wide range of expert speakers—including preeminent political, business, foreign policy, and academic leaders—to explore these questions (and more) as we seek to cultivate a broad and informed view of this pivotal election.

Each week, the course will examine major issues at stake for the country. Anticipated topics include: the nation’s coronavirus response; widening inequality across America; racial violence and nationwide protests; the role of technology and media in the election; the state of our economy; the Supreme Court and the rule of law; education policy; climate change; foreign policy; and voting rights.

Confirmed Guest Speakers:

Cory Booker, US Senator from New Jersey

Bruce Cain
, Charles E. Ducommun Professor in Humanities and Sciences; Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and the Precourt Institute for Energy; Director, Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford

Bill Clinton
, 42nd President of the United States

Linda Darling-Hammond
, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Emeritus, Stanford; Founding President, Learning Policy Institute; President, California State Board of Education

Jody Freeman, Director, Environmental and Energy Law Program, Harvard; Former Counselor for Energy and Climate Change, Obama Administration

Benjamin L. Ginsberg, Partner, Jones Day; Former National Counsel to Mitt Romney's Presidential Campaigns; Former National Counsel to the Bush-Cheney Presidential Campaign; Former Counsel to the Republican National Committee

Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Former Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Obama Administration

John L. Hennessy, Shriram Family Director, Knight-Hennessy Scholars; President of Stanford (2000-2016)

David M. Kennedy, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Emeritus, Stanford

John B. King, Jr., Former Secretary of Education, Obama Administration; President and CEO, The Education Trust

Ruth Marcus, Political Commentator; Journalist, The Washington Post

Michael McFaul, Director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies, Department of Political Science, Stanford; Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford

Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies, Middlebury College; Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of climate campaign group 350.org; Author of The End of Nature

Mark McKinnon, Political Advisor; Reform Advocate; Media Columnist; Television Producer; Former Chief Media Advisor to George W. Bush's Presidential Campaign

Nathaniel Persily, Co-Director, Stanford Cyber Policy Center; James B. McClatchy Professor of Law, Stanford; Former Senior Research Director for the Bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration

David Plouffe
, Political Strategist; Campaign Manager to the 2008 Presidential Campaign of President Barack Obama

Sean F. Reardon, Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education; Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research; Professor, by courtesy, of Sociology, Stanford

Susan Rice, Policy Advisor; 24th US National Security Advisor (Obama Administration); 27th US Ambassador to the United Nations (Obama Administration); 12th Assistant Secretary of State of African Affairs (Clinton Administration)

Adam Schiff, US Representative for California's 28th Congressional District

Steve Schmidt, Communications and Public Affairs Strategist; Senior Campaign Strategist and Advisor to the 2008 Presidential Campaign of Senator John McCain

Theodore M. Shaw, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights, University of North Carolina School of Law

Margaret Spellings, Former Secretary of Education, George W. Bush Administration; President and CEO, Texas 2036

Kara Swisher, Technology Business Journalist; Opinion Writer, The New York Times; Co-Founder, Recode

Tom Steyer, Former Presidential Candidate; Philanthropist

Andrew Yang, Former Presidential Candidate; Entrepreneur

Course Instructors:

Pamela Karlan, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law; Co-Director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Stanford Law School

Pamela Karlan is one of the nation’s leading experts on voting and the political process and has served as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, an assistant counsel and cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice. She was a law clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. Karlan is the co-author of casebooks on constitutional law, constitutional litigation, and the law of democracy. She received a JD from Yale.

James Steyer, Founder and CEO, Common Sense Media; Adjunct Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Jim Steyer is the founder and CEO of the nation's leading children's media and child advocacy organization, Common Sense Media. For more than thirty years, Professor Steyer has also taught popular courses on civil rights, civil liberties, and children and education issues at Stanford. He has received a number of teaching honors, including the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is the author of The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on Our Children (2003), Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age (2012), and the upcoming book Which Side of History: How Technology is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives (2020).

Please note: This course will be recorded by Stanford Continuing Studies. Student names, voices, and images will not be included in the recording. Students enrolled in the course will have access to the video recording of the class meeting within their Canvas account viewable for the duration of the course. We anticipate posting these videos to the course page in Canvas within a day of the class meeting. Some guest lectures may not be recorded at the request of the guest speaker. Students may not make their own recording of any class content. Stanford Continuing Studies will prepare a short summary video of the class meetings which we expect to release to the public within two weeks of the class meeting. Stanford also reserves the right to distribute the recordings outside of the class and to the public.

The content expressed are those of the speakers and course participants and do not necessarily represent the views of Stanford University.

Please visit continuingstudies.stanford.edu for a full list of guest speakers. This course is designed for the entire Stanford community; Continuing Studies students will be joined by Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies students, Stanford undergraduates, and Stanford graduate and professional students.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) James P. Steyer, Which Side of History?: How Technology Is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives (ISBN 978-1797205168)