San Jose city council member to teach local civics at SJSU
Originally published in The Spartan Daily 1/31/2011
By Alex Wara
(Liccardo is teaching Political Science 103: Local Government and Politics)
This semester students in the political science department will be able to learn from a current politician.
San Jose City Council member Sam Liccardo will be teaching a section of local politics.
Currently representing the city district that SJSU is in, Liccardo said he is ready to let students have a perspective from a politician’s point of view.
“I have been interested in the idea for sometime,” he said. “I think I can bring real world experiences because I am that person that has been in the trenches and recognizes the changes at all levels of the government.”
The political science department expressed interest in Liccardo as well when he mentioned he would be interested in the position.
After a few meetings with the department they were eager and excited to have him onboard, said Terry Christensen, political science professor.
Political science majors are using this opportunity to have the insights to what it is like inside the world of politics from someone who lives it everyday, said Domingo Juan, a junior political science major.
“I decided to take his class because I have never taken a class taught by a politician or former politician,” Juan said. “I believe he can give us a different view of politics because he is still in the political field.”
The idea of having Liccardo come on board with the department started a year ago when Liccardo brought up his desires to teaching the course, Christensen said.
“So when there was an opening this semester the department thought that it would be a good match,” Christensen said.
Liccardo said he received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University then went on to Harvard University to receive a Masters degree in public policy and a law degree. The idea of teaching was always lingering in his mind because his sister was a teacher.
Liccardo said his goal is to engage students to actively take part in the issues that they care about in politics by writing op-eds or speaking at a city council meeting.
He plans on bringing in guest speakers and taking a trip to city hall to help engage students in the political process. He also wants to give students the opportunities to not only learn about politics but to live it.
Liccardo will not be the first politician to teach a section of the course, said Christensen. The SJSU political science department has had a long tradition of bringing politicians into the classroom to teach.
Former councilwoman Cindy Chavez and former assemblyman Fred Keeley are two that have taught the local politics class as well.
“Each practitioner has unique experiences that they bring to the course,” Christensen said. “It’s a good way for people outside of the campus to have a better understanding of students and their workloads as well as the workload that a professor has.”
Liccardo said he is already aware of how busy his schedule will be by having to manage teaching a class and working at city hall.
“I am not holding back this semester. I am ready to defer sleep until June,” he added.