This quarter about 160 lucky film studies and communication students are learning about politics, the media and journalism from a veteran – CNN’s senior political analyst Jeff Greenfield.
Greenfield, who has worked in journalism for over 40 years, is a visiting professor teaching two courses this quarter. One of the courses, called “Political Media in the United States-A Historical Survey,” is offered to both communications and film and media studies students. It traces the media’s role in politics from the days of the Federalist Papers in the 1780s to the Internet, and discusses themes such as America’s fear of foreign influences.
Greenfield is also leading a seminar on “Ethics in Politics” for students in the Communication and Political Science Depts. During the seminar, students discuss ethical questions that arise in politics while taking on roles such as political candidates, campaign operatives, journalists and partisan and undecided citizens in a mock campaign.
Greenfield said he wants his students to understand how the messages that politicians convey fit into larger political themes.
“Students need to see beyond the techniques and notice how messages link up with very strong American traditions,” Greenfield said.
One of Greenfield’s students, fourth-year film and media studies major Ryan McEachern, said the class is a valuable experience.
“It is definitely the one class I look forward to the most,” McEachern said. “He’s really engaging, he has a real command of his subject and he does a lot to get you into the material
A lifelong New Yorker, Greenfield said he first visited Santa Barbara 10 years ago, fell in love with the city and decided to maintain a small residence.
Greenfield said he was offered the teaching position after conversations with Chancellor Henry T. Yang and Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts and English professor David Marshall.
As an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin and Yale University, Greenfield said he is interested to learn how UCSB students are able to study on a coastal campus.
“I hope, by the time I leave, to figure out how students can get any studying done on a campus like this,” Greenfield said.
Greenfield worked as a political and media analyst for ABC News, a media analyst for CBS and currently contributes to shows on CNN like “The Situation Room,” “American Morning” and “Paula Zahn Now.” He will also enter his fifth season as host of “CEO Exchange” on PBS.
Greenfield is a popular figure in the world of print media as well as in television. He has written articles for magazines and newspapers such as Harper’s, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine and The New York Times Book Review. He has also authored or co-authored nine books and writes a column for TIME Magazine.
Film and media studies professor Jennifer Holt said she is elated with Greenfield’s presence on the UCSB campus.
“It is an extraordinary opportunity for the students to have someone of his stature visit our department,” Holt said.
Greenfield said he is looking forward to the rest of his experiences this quarter.
“In teaching, I also hope I’m learning,” Greenfield said. “I am very grateful that UCSB is giving me the chance to do this.”