Course Criteria

The Political Engagement Project: Ferris State University has been chosen by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as one of eight universities to conduct a pilot research and pedagogy project focused on increasing political engagement among undergraduate students. Co-sponsored by The New York Times and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Phase I of the Political Engagement Project sought to enhance student political engagement through individual courses. Phase II seeks to achieve that goal on a campus-wide basis.

The major distinction of a Political Engagement Project Course (PEP) is that it does not require creation of a new course or the complete overhaul of an existing course. Rather, PEP requires only that at least one of the course objectives will serve to improve student political engagement in relation to course material by exposing students to real events and players in a political arena. Examples of relevant activities include, but are not limited to: guest speaker series, attendance at governmental meetings, travel to events away from campus, utilization of current media resources in addition to or in place of texts, etc.

Some will wonder what an appropriate level of course emphasis we are requesting. We would suggest that, at a minimum, a PEP course would account for about 25% of the course grade (it could certainly be more)

  • Course must be enhanced in some way (i.e., includes new component(s) beyond readings, lectures, and/or discussions that address PEP objectives)
    1. increase knowledge and understanding of democratic process
    2. develop skills in political deliberation and critical judgment
    3. motivate students to become politically engaged
    4. relate course discipline to political engagement and/or public policy


  • Students in the course activity must directly "encounter" the political process
    1. attendance at appropriate governmental meetings
    2. relevant guest speakers in class
    3. field research about a political issue
    4. in-class simulations
    5. travel to events away from campus
    6. experiential activities (e.g., interviews)
    7. assign students to mentors in the field


  • Students must have the opportunity to reflect upon/process those activities using
    1. journals
    2. essays
    3. blogs
    4. oral reports or speeches or group presentations
    5. academic papers


  • Instructors must provide for outcomes assessment (this is beyond the SAI)
    1. PEP survey instrument
    2. student satisfaction surveys
    3. student anecdotes
    4. instructor feedback via survey or focus group