Students focusing on every major at the University of Illinois will be able to sign up for an eight-week course called “Trumpaganda: The war on facts, press and democracy.”
Per WGNTV, the classes will focus on US President Donald Trump’s “use of Twitter and his attacks on news organizations” in what is described as his “ongoing war with the mainstream media.” Students who take the class will study how Trump’s continued use of Twitter as a platform of communication with his constituents has “impacted politics and society.”
According to the Daily Illini, the university’s newspaper, this will be the inaugural class in the course, which is set to start on October 22. While it is focused in the College of Media as an “upper-level journalism course,” all students at the university are free to enroll in the class.
Mira Sotirovic, associate professor in Media, will be teaching the course. Sotirovic is a Karin and Folke Dovring Scholar in propaganda, and is also the author of one chapter in the Communication in the Age of Trump book.
The professor stated in an email that the course will “prompt students to recognize the varying strategies and tactics the Trump administration employs to deal with the press, and how the usage of propaganda exists in a democracy.”
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is launching a course examining the president's impact on democracy and the free press https://t.co/vLBs98vfqx
— POLITICO (@politico) October 10, 2018
“Propaganda is effective only if it is concealed and camouflaged as something else, such as news, advertisements or PR releases, and it is critical to learn how to detect propaganda and recognize propagandistic features of any communication, including presidential.”
Stephanie Craft, head of the journalism department, is encouraging students to sign up for the class based on the fact that propaganda could be an influence in any form, and believes the course will help to “better inform” students in recognizing it.
Craft hopes that the course will later be turned into a series, and something that will appeal to more than just journalism majors, as it inevitably affects everyone in the country.
Even freshman students are eager to join the course, as indicated by Elise Guillen.
“Based on the name of the class, I can tell that I would probably learn a lot about Trump and propaganda,” Guillen told the student paper. “Although I’m not the biggest fan of Trump, it’s important to know what the president is doing and how we, as Americans, are influenced and even portrayed with things like his tweets.”
The course outline acknowledges that while most presidents have had a somewhat contentious relationship with the press, Trump has decried the media as “fake news” almost every chance he gets, using very different, and more aggressive, tactics to sow distrust in mainstream news organizations.