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Election in Real Time: Juniata Politics Professor to Speak on 2008 Campaign Course

(Posted February 2, 2009)

Dennis Plane, assistant professor of politics

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- In what might be the nation's most historic election year, Dennis Plane, assistant professor of politics at Juniata College, will discuss the challenges, triumphs and logistics of studying an election as it unfolds in the talk, "Teaching American Politics in an Election Year" at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 11 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Bookend Seminar series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Political science is generally concerned with elections after a period of time has passed. Most college politics courses study the elections of the past. During this academic year (2008-2009) Plane chose to create a course around the campaign and election of 2008. "We used the presidential debates and other campaign events, supplemented by readings from journalists and scholars, to help students understand the campaign process," Plane says.

In the fall, Plane and a dozen or so Juniata students attended the Democratic and Republican national conventions, where the students interned for media or political organizations and witnessed the political process up close. In addition, students at the conventions attended academic seminars with politicians such as Mickey Edwards, a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma.

Currently during spring semester, Plane just returned from taking 11 students to the inauguration of President Barack Obama, where the students attended academic seminars and witnessed the inauguration. He will discuss both these trips and also talk about a class fieldwork assignment in which students were asked to volunteer during the election in either partisan or nonpartisan roles.

"We used the presidential debates and other campaign events, supplemented by readings from journalists and scholars, to help students understand the campaign process."
Dennis Plane, assistant professor of politics

Plane came to Juniata as assistant professor of politics in 2004. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1993 from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., and went on to earn a doctoral degree in political behavior and American political institutions in 2002 from the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.

Plane previously worked as a visiting assistant professor at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. from 2002 to 2004. He also worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Texas from 1995 to 1997 and as an instructor in politics from 2000 to 2002. From 1998 to 2000 he also worked as an adjunct professor of politics at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas.

He has taught courses in U.S. government, state and local government, public policy, Congress and public opinion.




Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.