Oberlin Center for Convergence (StudiOC)

Election 2020: Politics, Religion, and Art

This multidiscplinary learning community will helps students gain a better understanding of the ways in which art and music, and religion and politics intersect to shape how people view and engage in presidential campaigns.

Abby Aresty.

Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

Abby Aresty

Cynthia Chapman

Photo credit: Courtesy of Cynthia Chapman

Cynthia Chapman

Michael Parkin white shirt.

Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

Michael Parkin

Election 2020: Politics, Religion, and Art

Offered fall 2020

Election 2020: Politics, Religion, and Art offers a creative and multidisciplinary inquiry into how Americans engage with presidential campaigns. It considers how Americans “think” and “do” campaigns with the goal of enhancing student appreciation and understanding of the many and complex factors that shape the presidential campaign experience.


Course Instructors for this learning community are Technical Director and Lecturer of TIMARA Abby Aresty; Cynthia Chapman, Adelia A.F. Johnston and Harry Thomas Frank Professor of Religion; and  Michael Parkin, Erwin N. Griswold Professor of Politics.

Abby Aresty, Instructor

FYSP 046OC Crafting Change:  Arts, Activism and the 2020 Election
Meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9 am; 4 credit hours; enrollment 16

An artist traces the flood line in New York City with chalk, sparking conversations with passers-by about climate change; a 54-ton community-built quilt commemorates lives lost to AIDS, raising awareness and funds to fight this disease; thousands of children color ‘funded’ dollar bills to deliver to Congress to advocate for lead-free water.

When artists step outside of concert halls, galleries, and other ‘sanctioned’ art spaces, they become advocates, community builders, and changemakers. In this course, we explore major issues in the 2020 election through the arts. 

Cindy Chapman, Instructor

FYSP 048OC Faith and the Ballot Box
Meets Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9 am; 4 credit hours; enrollment  16

While Thomas Jefferson argued for a “wall of separation” between church and state, in reality, there has been a thoroughfare of exchange. This course traces the intersection of religion and politics historically and in current events. We will examine issues central to the 2020 presidential election such as immigration, mass incarceration, definitions of marriage and family, gun control, and religious freedom. When do candidates use religious language and to what effect? How does religious identity affect voting patterns? What is the significance of the 116th  Congress being the most religiously diverse delegation in history?

Michael Parkin, Instructor

POLT 283OC Election 2020: Propaganda, Polls and the People's Choice
Meets Monday, Wednesday, Friday10:10 am; 4 credit hours; enrollment 32

Every four years, the process of selecting a president unfolds. Candidates craft strategies to build momentum and win support; reporters, pundits and citizens spread information and data across multiple media; and voters try to make sense of it all before casting their ballot.

This class studies the fascinating chaos of American presidential campaigns. Using historical examples and scholarly research, we cover campaign strategy, information dissemination, and the psychology of voting behavior with the goal of better understanding how Americans experience presidential campaigns and how they are engaging with the 2020 campaign in particular.