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Big-name speakers to discuss Obama’s presidency

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, The Daily incorrectly reported the name of Mr. Podesta as David Podesta. His name is John Podesta.

John Podesta, the chairman of President Obama’s transition team and former Clinton chief of staff, is set to speak today in “Justice and the Obama Presidency,” a new political science course.

David Kennedy, a Stanford history professor, is also set to address the students.

The one-unit class offered this spring is advertised as “reflecting on the politics and policies of the first year of the Obama presidency, with attention to implications for the 2010 midterm election,” and has two-hour lectures on Thursday nights. Also on the schedule are political heavyweights Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Steve Schmidt, who managed the 2008 campaign of Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The class will focus on social justice issues, covering topics such as education, economic policy, health care, civil rights and foreign policy. Students are encouraged to participate in a class blog.

Political Science Prof. Rob Reich Ph.D. ’98, who also teaches the IHUM course “Freedom, Equality, Difference,” is teaching the Obama course along with comparative studies in race & ethnicity lecturer James Steyer J.D. ’83.

This is not the first time Reich and Steyer have taught together. In fall 2008, they co-taught “Justice at Home and Abroad,” which will be offered again this fall. Steyer also is currently co-teaching “The Changing Face of America” with Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising Julie Lythcott-Haims ’89.

They both see the course as an opportunity for the Stanford community to discuss important social issues.

“We want to motivate students to be engaged with social justice issues, no matter what their political viewpoint is,” Steyer said. “We want to inspire students to become leaders.”

Juany Torres ’13 decided to take this class after attending a Structured Liberal Education lecture by Reich.

“He had a great impact on me,” Torres said. “He made me realize what college was all about. The professors are really going to make you think.”

Torres wishes the class size were smaller so the students could have more intimate discussions. But, she said, “I’m just fortunate to be in it.”

Torres is indeed lucky, as according to teaching assistant Henry Tsai, there is currently a long wait list. The class is set to meet in Bishop Auditorium at the Graduate School of Business.

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