Political Science instructor Tim Schouls gives an overview of how Capilano students are getting involved with the federal election campaign.

Capilano University political studies courses are buzzing with excitement in light of the 2015 federal election. Elections, the heart of the democratic process, come around only once every four years or so and students are seizing the opportunity to engage in all kinds of political analysis and debate.

What makes this campaign so intriguing is the character of the campaign itself: parties are staking out their positions in a race that looks to be one of the closest contests ever in Canadian history. The opportunities for learning in and out of the classroom are endless.

So what are our students up to? All classes begin with discussion of daily events on the campaign trail. We follow the leaders’ tours and local campaigns—identifying success and failures—we evaluate policy proposals as they are announced, we criticize and we invent better campaign strategies and more meaningful policy options.

But we go deeper. What’s missing from the campaign, we ask? Where are Aboriginal voices as part of our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation? Why can’t leaders agree about what our national commitment should be to refugees? We evaluate the impact of the recession on our economic priorities and we grapple with the question of the place for Quebec within Canada. We criticize the media, its tendency to sensationalize and to trivialize, and we lament its failure to educate.

We also head out of the classroom. We attend local all-candidates debates, we report on our meetings with local candidates to one another and we turn up at the leaders’ events when they are held in town. Once the election is over, students in the POL 100 courses will participate in a Parliamentary Committee simulation. We’ll take on one of the policy priorities from the election campaign and debate that policy from the perspectives of the governing and opposition parties, as well as leading interest groups. This is applied learning of a most dramatic sort—it’s good fun too.

As for other election-related events, Political Studies instructor Conrad King is facilitating a Democracy Café geared to helping citizens learn more about the election and the electoral process and the Political Studies Students Club is planning their own election-related events. An election campaign means Political Studies students are active and engaged! Follow us on Facebook and check out the Political Studies website.

Submitted by Tim Schouls, Instructor, Political Studies