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Special Topics Course Uses GIS to Study Election Strategy

Special Topics Course Uses GIS to Study Election StrategyThe University of St. Thomas Political Science Department and Environmental Science and Studies Department continue their teaching collaboration in fall 2012 to offer a special topics class titled, “Know Your Constituency: GIS and the 2012 Elections.”  The class will be taught by Dr. Jean-Phillippe Faletta, associate professor of political science, and Dr. William Harris, associate professor of environmental science and studies.

Do you want to know what will happen in the 2012 legislative elections? Students will use a geographic information system (GIS) to learn and predict how legislative candidates will micro-target the various portions of their constituency to maximize their likelihood of victory.

Along with GIS, the course will use 2010 U.S. Census data and new 2011-2012 legislative redistricting maps to focus on how current legislators and their challengers in the 2012 elections are using the demographics in the new districts versus the old districts to try and win their elections.

There will be a heavy emphasis on applied politics, campaign strategy and the use of new technology to target voters. Therefore, students will be able to operate almost as if they are the campaign consultants in a hands-on applied fashion.

Because the class will be taking place in real time, students will be able to compare their results with the actual outcome of the 2012 elections in November.

The class will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30-6:45 p.m. during the fall 2012 semester.

The political and legal aspects of the redistricting process will be taught by Faletta. Faletta is an associate professor of political science and joined the UST faculty in 2001. He serves as director of the Service Learning Program and served as head of the Faculty Senate during the 2009-2010 school year. Faletta has undergraduate degrees in Russian language and literature and a master’s degree and doctorate in political science from Wayne State University in Detroit.

The GIS portion of the course will be taught by Harris. Harris is an associate professor of Environmental Science and Studies. He earned an undergraduate degree in geology from Baylor University, and a master’s and doctorate in geology from Texas A&M University. He taught in the Department of Geology for Texas A&M University from 1987-88 and in the Department of Geology and Secondary Education at Kansas State University from 1989-1991 before coming to UST.

For more information about the course, contact Dr. Faletta at 713-942-3481 or

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