What is the future of American politics? It is optimistic and hopeful, or are we doomed to a prolonged recession? Currently, the economy is down, people are unable to sell homes or get mortgages, large companies such as General Motors are struggling, and the government is trying to work out a way to stimulate the economy while solving lingering long term problems. A major problem is that a lot of people don’t know about or understand the fiscal problems that our country is facing. The freshman seminar, “The Future of American Politics,” taught by Dr. Kettl, focused on the issue of raising awareness about the federal budget crisis. The point of the class was to become more informed about the present fiscal problems, and raise awareness among college students by marketing the information in an interesting and creative way. At the beginning, the members of the class had to be educated about the debt, the deficit, and the difference between them, among other things. In class, discussions were held about the best way to reach the massive population of college students. The class tried to think of ways to use viral marketing strategies through things like as online satirical videos or short weekly blogs that provoked strong emotions. By the end of the first month, the entire class divided into groups based on common interests, whether it was marketing and advertising or blogging and video blogging. The projects continued to progress through the next two months, culminating in an impressive portfolio. The largest group consisted of five people interested in different methods of advertising and marketing strategies. The primary idea was to create and market an ad campaign, using characters that would show college students exactly how the federal budget crisis would affect them later in their lives. Hannah and Michael came up with the idea of the ad campaign, which would gather attention by starting with something simple. Anna and Adria helped develop the idea of the ad campaign, and each contributed a character, complete with a biography and picture. Aaseesh presented a concept for a single logo, and together the group came up with the “Pound-It” idea, as in pounding the federal budget. The main project of the group was the elaborate website, initially designed by Aaseesh and then added to by all other team members. This website, www.pound-it.org, created a central point where all the class’s content could be uploaded and accessed from.One of the main points on the website, was the weekly blog developed by Kelvin. Kelvin went after shock value, creating an “Outrage of the Week” blog. These blogs were on topics ranging from how much each person owns of the national debt to earmarks, and were uploaded each week. The “Outrage of the Week” blog attracted attention every week because of its shocking new headline, along with the fact that it was a quick read. Meanwhile, Sami and Keara were already publishing letters in well-known local newspapers. They did research on the specific demographics of the Philadelphia area, and then wrote Op/Ed pieces directed at the people of the city. They were able to get published rather quickly in newspapers such as the Daily News. After the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, Sami and Keara attempted to figure out just how Philadelphia factors into the federal budget, using new mapping technologies.John and Will created YouTube videos that showcased how little students knew about the national economy. Using “Man on the Street” episodes, they interviewed random students about their present feelings about the economy, political situation, and presidential election. On Election Day, they ventured out to polls and asked people what factors had strongly influenced their decision. The last video John and Will produced was of the class itself, talking about what they have learned and what they have accomplished. All videos are able to be seen on the website, where all past and present blogs can also be viewed.Kristen, Jess, and Clare decided to make a pamphlet to hand out to different groups of people. Their main goal was to dedicate a pamphlet specifically to each generation, focusing on how the federal budget crisis would affect each group separately. To gather the information, they interviewed teens, working-age adults, and senior citizens. The end result was three polished-looking pamphlets dedicated to each age group. They are currently figuring out ways to distribute these to people of all ages. Harold wanted to write about the health care system, and ended up researching who has health care, who doesn’t, and why. While he originally had ideas that were a bit too big for the scope of the project, Harold ended up simplifying his argument so that more people could understand and be persuaded to agree with him.Every member of the class contributed to their individual projects, which in turn created a rather full website, with easy-to-understand content that is readily accessible to anyone. The website looks extremely professional, and people have even added an “in the news” aspect that is updated when any major economic event occurs. Each class member also participated in John and Will’s last video, about the experience of trying to raise awareness about this issue, and what they learned from the class as a whole.Throughout the course of the class, each student became somewhat of an expert on the economic situation, as well as other current issues. The ability to really ask questions and discuss what was going on was helpful, and created an environment where everyone was learning something new. The website became the largest achievement of the class as a whole, and it will continue to be updated and hopefully used by youth around the country. While everyone is still uncertain about what exactly the future of American politics is, hopefully the work done by this class will contribute to making this future a brighter one.