- An eight-week course examining President Donald Trump's effect on the country and the press is being offered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Politico reported.
- Titled "Trumpaganda: The War on Facts, Press and Democracy," the course runs from mid-October through mid-December, using the 2018 midterm elections as a reference point for its exploration of the president's relationship mainstream news media.
- The class will be taught by Mira Sotirovic, an associate professor and propaganda scholar. She told The Daily Illini student newspaper that while Trump is not the first politician to have a challenging relationship with the press, he has used propaganda more extensively.
UIUC's is not the only course in which the current president factors heavily into the discussion. Sixteen U.S. colleges and universities are teaching some or all of curriculum for a course developed at Brown University called "Democratic Erosion," according to The Washington Post.
Robert Blair, a political science professor at Brown, was inspired to develop the course partly in response to Trump's travel ban and other policies that raised questions around the viability of American democracy. He worked with professors at other universities, research assistants and a $4,000 grant from Brown to create the course, which is not intended to be partisan. Students explore the fate of democracies around the world, read materials supporting Trump, and debate larger issues and structures such as civility and bureaucracy.
Such courses face scrutiny from their institutions, however. In response to pressure from conservative groups on campus, San Diego State University changed the name of a week-long criminal justice course titled "Trump: Impeachment, Removal or Conviction" to "Impeachment, Removal and Special Counsel." The university maintained that the course looked beyond the current administration to address the issue of impeachment throughout the country's history, Newsweek reported.
There is some indication that colleges and universities are offering more topical courses because they see it as their mission to expand thought and keep up with current culture. They also hope to draw students to their campus and keep them interested. The University of Kansas, for instance, has drawn student attention to those courses with lists such as "six classes for the current events junkie", which includes courses about moral issues in sports, the history of hookup culture, surveillance and bees.