By Alyssa Grevenkamp
When Dr. Robert Postic, associate professor of political science and chair of the Social, Behavioral and Justice Sciences Department at the University of Findlay, was thinking about the upcoming academic year and which classes he was going to offer, he came up with a new idea to get more than just traditional students to participate in his class.
He branched out and decided to open one of his courses to the public, for free.
“I had taken a couple of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) and thought it might be fun to put one together,” said Postic. “I quickly discovered that putting together a MOOC is very time consuming and beyond the resources available to me. So I thought, why not just open one of my courses to the public?”
The course that is now made available to the public is Political Science 110. It’s a three hour credit course for students. But for the public, it’s absolutely free and they can choose to come and join when they want.
“I thought it would be a great way to demonstrate a commitment to the community around us while taking knowledge that we have and making it available in a public way,” said Postic.
The class meets Tuesday nights from 6-8 p.m. Originally, the class was going to meet in Old Main Room 305, but since there was such a big turn out on the first night, the class will now meet in Davis 102 which seats 70.
Dr. Postic was more than pleased by the turnout.
“I would say there were about 30 to 35 community members in attendance. I was thinking that maybe we would get about a half dozen. To say I was a bit surprised and unfortunately, unprepared for that big of a turnout is an understatement. We definitely had a space problem with the first class. I feel really bad about that because there were students who had to sit in the hall. I take responsibility for that and I apologize to all who were inconvenienced,” said Postic.
The community has taken advantage of the free opportunity given to them through the Political Science course. The University of Findlay does an abundance for the community already, but Postic believes this is just another example of how the University reaches out to the community.
“I think it’s a great way to demonstrate UF’s commitment to the community in which we live. It shows, in a very practical way, that we want to positively affect the community,” said Postic. “I realize that there are already many things that the university does to demonstrate our commitment. I think this just adds to that long list.”
The course will cover a wide variety of topics including the U.S. Constitution, civil liberties, congress, and elections. People taking the class can expect a lot of discussion on these topics as well as assignments that delve into these matters.
Postic said he doesn’t just want to offer a free course to the public so he can get more people in the class. He wants to be able to educate them on the topics that are being discussed and allow the community members to discuss their perspectives on the topics as well as the students’ perspectives.
“By having a more diverse classroom, I think the exchange of ideas will be robust and informative. Those who are older have insights and ideas that can be overlooked or even ignored” said Postic. “On the flip side, I think it will be beneficial to the community members to see that young people are very engaged and knowledgeable about politics. So it’s really a two-way street, with each group being willing to learn from the other.”
“One of my hopes is that people will learn that we can still be friends, or at least be friendly, even though we may have sharp disagreements on various issues,” said Postic. “My hope is that somehow we can stop demonizing those who disagree with us. Maybe this course will help that process; maybe it won’t. But I want to give it a try.”