Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Becoming a Political Pundit

Instructor: Dave Shuster

Everyone has opinions about almost everything. Especially politics!

But why do some people's opinions (Pundits) seem to carry substantially more weight with large numbers of listeners and readers than their peers? What cocktail of virtues (or vices) elevates them? Is it knowledge, communication skills, arrogance, personality and character, opportunity, credibility, analytical/synthesis talents, determination, education, imagination, charisma, poetic grace, enjoyment, caring (or not caring), idealism (or skepticism), a need to be heard, a compulsion to probe, debate and argue, obsession to know or compulsion to make people know that you know, faith (missionary zeal), hope (good can come of it), charity (feed those who either can not or will not inform themselves)…or other ingredient mixtures? The formula surely varies for individuals, but what are the essentials?

And, why do listeners and readers respond in equally various, but consistent, ways?

We shall try to answer these and other emerging relevant questions. And, we shall test our assumptions and conclusions, by each of us trying to engage a following as a political pundit.

We shall tap traditional and non-traditional media, experiment with imaginative untried venues, address editorial classics, query professionals and find out if, in 16 short weeks, we can establish our pundit qualifications.

Caveat Emptor! Let those who enter into this domain beware. Be prepared to stake your claim and hold your own. Civility, yes! Guaranteed protection from challenge, no!


Grades depend on:

  • Attendance - Perfect unless your sky falls
  • Participation - Reading texts and articles, speaking, listening, challenging and critiquing each other, consensus building
  • Writing - Two short papers and lots of opinion columns
  • Outside work - Contacting professional pundits, building a small (or large) following
  • Discovery - Realize that "I can do it!"
  • Chemistry - Maintaining class ambience


Conrad C. Fink, Writing Opinion for Impact, (2nd. ed.), Blackwell Publishers, September 30, 2004,
ISBN: 0813807514

Michael Gartner, Newseum, Outrage Passion & Uncommon Sense: How Editorial Writers Have Taken
On and Helped Shape The Great American Issues of the Past 150 Years, National Geographic,
October 4, 2005, ISBN: 0792241975

Last Update: February 10, 2008