Social media and the 2012 election: Class syllabus online

My new class “Social media and the 2012 election” starts next week and I wanted to post my syllabus for public comment.

This is a class that I taught for the first time in 2008 during the Obama campaign. After the election the president was praised for his Internet strategy that complemented his traditional campaigning and many scholars have pointed out that he was able to motivate non-voters via social media to go to the polling booths.

Between 2009 and 2012 I spent a lot of time trying to understand how the lessons learned during the successful presidential campaign can be used for day-to-day governing activities. While the Open Government mandate pushed a lot of efforts in the U.S. federal agencies forward to invest time and resources into harnessing new technologies, government agencies are also facing many challenges when using social media. For that purpose, I observed and interview social media directors in the U.S. federal government to understand their strategic, managerial, and administrative decision making and the resulting social media tactics.

This class is therefore based on my research on social media in the public sector. It observes in real-time who the public, news organizations and the candidates are using social media until election day. It grounds the observations in theoretical sociological and information management concepts. The goal is to teach the underlying concepts and managerial skills future social media managers need – not only in government, but also in the nonprofit and corporate world. Guest speakers will complement lectures and class discussions.

Here is the syllabus. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions for improvements!

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About Ines Mergel

I am Full Professor of Public Administration at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously, I served as Assistant and then Associate Professor (with tenure) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, NY. In my research, I focus on informal social networks in the public sector and the adoption and diffusion of digital service innovations in government organizations. I teach classes on social media management, digital government, public management, and social network analysis.

3 thoughts on “Social media and the 2012 election: Class syllabus online

  1. Dear Ines,

    I’ve been following you with much interest (and envy!). I’m teaching a required course in the social work master’s program at NYU and want to approach it as you have. My course this fall is the second of the sequence. I taught it as a policy and politics course in the first course and the students did blogs. This time however I want the course to be mainly focussed on the voter ID issue and the election itself. I love the idea of using Twitter this time and you have done what it would have taken me months to figure out. One of their required texts will be Deanna Zandt’s Share This!. Would you be comfortable with me adapting your syllabus for my course. I would give you full credit of course but would want to use much of the sources, assignments and so forth that you use. I fully understand if you would prefer I not adapt you syllabus so don’t be reluctant to say so.

    All best, Suzanne England

  2. Yes, please do! I am curious about your experiences in class. You can follow our online conversations using the hashtag #electionclass on Twitter. I will also share videos of our guest speakers here on my blog! This should be a fun semester!

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