Two of the most popular programs at Glendon are Political Science and International Studies. And it’s no wonder! These are great programs, and great ways to prepare yourself for a career in fostering positive social change. Glendon’s graduates from these programs have gone on into careers in academia, politics, diplomacy, NGO work and advocacy. So chances are, when you come to Glendon, a large number of your friends will be in these programs. (Just look at our eAmbassador team!) This also means that conversations often turn to politics.
But for those of you whose interests lie in education, theatre, linguistics or one of the many other programs at Glendon that aren’t explicitly about politics, it can be a little intimidating to land in a conversation about politics. At least it has been for me as a Drama and Sociology major (Full disclosure: I know political sociology is a thing. But I’ve steered clear of that. It’s legit daunting.)
I have distinct memories from earlier in my degree where I ended up in political conversations with friends, and my only contribution was “I think I read a play about that once…” #dramamajorproblems
Not to fret though! It is possible to stay informed, be interested and have an active role in politics, even if the word politics isn’t in every or any of your course titles. Over the last 5 years my interest and knowledge in politics has grown immensely. And some of that has been my academic work. Some of that has been getting my friends to educate me. But for the most part, it’s been through making the active choice to become politically informed.
So here are my tips on how to get involved with politics while you’re reading Molière for class.
1. Stay Informed
Read the news. Download the Star Touch app. Watch the debates. Ask your friends. The first step in getting active in political decisions is to know what the heck is actually happening. I don’t know how many times I’ve googled “what is the electoral college” during the U.S. elections or messaged a friend about what the Keystone Pipeline is but I don’t mind doing it if that means I can stay informed. Sometimes it makes me feel dumb to have to look up these concepts, but I know that if I just swallow my pride, it’ll make me a more informed citizen.
2. Find Your Issue
A lot of people say they don’t like politics. And yeah, it can get boring. Participating can seem exhausting and there’s the age-old stereotype of all politicians being heartless scumbags. I get it if politics isn’t “your thing”. But whatever you ARE interested in can and probably is affected by the world of politics.
Theatre geek? Stay up to date about arts funding programs. Higher ed nerd? (Oh, just me?) Well guess who decides how much funding students and public universities get. Passionate about social justice issues like race relations or feminism? Well… you get the point. Sure, maybe it’ll take you a little time to be super smart about all the different domains that politics touches, but staying up-to-date and forming opinions about what you DO care about is a great gateway to caring.
3. Vote And/Or Voice Your Opinion
The last tip I have in how to get involved in politics… GET INVOLVED. If you are eligible to vote, go do so and in every election – municipal, provincial, national, or whatever a primary is for the Americans. And if you aren’t eligible to vote, voice your opinion anyway about politics. What politicians in your city, province, country decide affects you even if you aren’t a citizen, so let folks who can vote know what you think about issues so your voice counts.
It’ll take a little time. And you may always feel like you’re a little behind those that study this for a living. But opening yourself up to politics, whether it be local, national or international, makes you a better and more informed voter. Also you’ll start to get a few more of the jokes they tell on Rick Mercet, SNL, John Oliver or This Hour Has 22 Minutes.