Barry McNamara  |   Published August 11, 2020

Prospective Students Get a Virtual Perspective of Monmouth

First installment of professors’ mini-classes a big success.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – This summer, prospective students got a taste of the Monmouth College educational experience through a series of online mini-classes.

ANDRE AUDETTE: ?Conspiracy theories is one of my favorite topics to teach in my ?Political Psycho... ANDRE AUDETTE: “Conspiracy theories is one of my favorite topics to teach in my ‘Political Psychology' class, and it's always fun to hear from different audiences because so many people have different experiences with conspiracies.”The students could choose as many classes as they liked from among 15 offerings, ranging from “Write Now, Right? A Young Writers Workshop with Poet David Wright” to “Introduction to the Strange Ideas of the Quantum World,” taught by physics professor Chris Fasano.

“The classes were a huge hit,” said Monmouth Vice President for Enrollment Management Kristen English. “In total, 316 students from 19 states plus Puerto Rice signed on for a class. Many attended multiple classes, including two students who tied for the record at 12 mini-classes each.”

One of the most popular offerings was “Conspiracy Theories in American Society,” taught by political science professor Andre Audette.

Audette drew a large response by promising to address such sensational ideas as the U.S. government killed President John F. Kennedy and 5G causes coronavirus.

“The class explored who believes in conspiracy theories, how they are spread and why they are so popular,” said Audette. “One of the big takeaways is that belief in conspiracy theories is widespread in the U.S. Conspiratorial thinking is defined by belief that people in power are working for their own interests instead of the common good and that they are covering this information up.”

The class concluded with a discussion of whether or not conspiracy theories are helpful or harmful for society.

“A general consensus developed that they can be fun and are useful for helping us cope with the difficulties of life, but when they lead to public policies that have negative effect on peoples’ lives, then they tend to be more harmful,” said Audette. “Conspiracy theories is one of my favorite topics to teach in my ‘Political Psychology’ class, and it’s always fun to hear from different audiences because so many people have different experiences with conspiracies.”

The feedback that Audette received from prospective students was not uncommon, said Monmouth admission counselor Brock McNinch, who was involved in the mini-class program.

“The students who attended often let the professor know before leaving that they enjoyed the class or that they had a fun time,” said McNinch. “Most of the classes I covered had the majority of students stay the entire period and often 15-30 minutes longer to continue asking questions or have discussions.”

One “conspiracy” that can be put to rest is that the mini-classes were only a one-time opportunity for the summer of 2020. It’s actually quite the opposite, as the College’s admission team is working with Monmouth faculty to set up a fall schedule of classes, which should be available later this month.

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