Beginning Spring Quarter 2019, UC Santa Barbara students will have the opportunity to take a class on grassroots campaign design, taught by prominent Isla Vista leader and UCSB alumnus Jonathan Abboud.

Nexus File Photo

The course will be the first of its kind, focusing primarily on developing skills to create momentum and develop tangible action in a community. It will be offered only through the UCSB extension program.

Abboud, Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) general manager and Santa Barbara City College trustee, designed the course. He will be teaching it this spring with the help of occasional guest speakers.

Abboud recently submitted a tentative syllabus for the class in the form of a proposal, which, if approved, will allow him to the class to run next quarter.

“I’m really looking forward to it because I know it is going to be hard this first time doing it, but it is a way for me to pass on what I’ve learned,” Abboud said in an interview with the Nexus.

This is not his first experience teaching a course at UCSB, Abboud said.

In Winter Quarter 2014, he taught a course called “Politics of the University of California” where students learned about the inner workings of the university and its role on a statewide platform.

On top of teaching at UCSB, Abboud also has experience in the area of grassroots campaigning, which he developed both in and out of school.

After graduating, Abboud launched multiple successful grassroots campaigns, which ultimately led to the formation of I.V. CSD.

The director of UCSB’s Leadership and Advocacy Program, Patricia Fancher, initially approached Abboud to create a syllabus and teach a class on campaign design.

Although the course name implies campaigning, that is not necessarily what the class is about, Abboud said.

“When people use the word campaigning, they probably mean going out and getting votes, but that’s not what this class is for… The class is about how to build support for your idea and advance it.”

The class will take place over 10 weeks, during which students will work toward creating a campaign portfolio. The portfolio will include a plan to campaign either on campus or in I.V. “to enact some positive change” in their respective communities, according to the syllabus proposal.

Each week of the class will highlight a different component of the campaigning process – ranging from volunteer recruitment to branding and communications – in order add more tools to students’ campaigning belts, according to the syllabus.

The course is structured similarly to that of most courses at UCSB, but places a heavier emphasis on technical skills and less on theories, said Abboud.

“The class does have some theory in it, but a lot of it is going to be more practical skills based, like how to facilitate a meeting or how to do a power map. Hopefully people can take the things they learn in their theory classes and see how they relate to this.”

Although the class doesn’t begin until April, Abboud has high hopes along with some nerves.

“I’ve had some experience to make this less scary than it can be, but it definitely is an exciting opportunity.”

A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the Jan. 24, 2019 edition of the Daily Nexus.

Max Abrams is a reporter for the Daily Nexus and can be reached at


Max Abrams
Max Abrams served as the lead news editor for the 2020-2021 school year. He is from Buffalo. That's all you need to know.