FAU Lifelong Learning Society, Jupiter
Robert P. Watson, Ph.D.

 Political Science

Robert P. Watson, Ph.D., is Professor of American Studies at Lynn University, Senior Fellow at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and the political analyst for WPTV 5 (NBC). He has published 34 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, book chapters and essays on topics in American politics and history, been interviewed by hundreds of media outlets across the US and internationally and has served on the boards of numerous scholarly journals, academic associations and presidential foundations. Professor Watson has won numerous awards, including the Distinguished Professor of the Year awards at both FAU and Lynn (twice) and FAU’s Faculty Service award (twice).

The Fascinating Lives of America’s First Ladies

There has been a long history of influence and activism by first ladies. In fact, their social and political legacies can be traced to such early “Founding Mothers” as Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolley Madison. More recent presidential spouses, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Betty Ford, and Hillary Clinton have built on these legacies by forging new roles and responsibilities for the first ladyship. This course will explore the important contributions of first ladies to the White House and nation, the little-known trials and tribulations of presidential wives, and their fascinating personal stories.

Four Lectures
  1. The “Founding Mothers” — While Washington, Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers are carved into stone and lionized in American history, we have forgotten about the extraordinary contributions of their wives.
  2. What’s a Woman to Do? — Answers to your questions about the origins of the title “first lady,” the struggle to determine her proper roles and responsibilities, the development of a modern “office” in the White House, and more.
  3. Contemporary First Ladies — Examine the highs and lows as well as the personal stories of recent first ladies.
  4. Women in Public Life — The history of women’s participation in politics and public life, in many forms and with mixed success.
Course # F4M6 — 4 weeks
  Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
  Dates:Mondays — November 10, 17, 24; December 1
  Time:3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
  Fee:$34 / member; $54 / non-member
Dysfunctional Politics
Reforming a Broken System

Everyone agrees that the American political system isn't working. Hyper-partisanship, special interests, and careerist politicians more interested in their own reelection than the national interest have brought the legislative agenda to a grinding halt. The crisis in Washington has exacted a terrible toll on the country and is unsustainable. This course will explore the root causes of a number of problems plaguing the system, while providing proper historical context. That done, each lecture will conclude with a look at both Democratic and Republican proposals for addressing the issue and offer an agenda for reform and renewal.

Eight Lectures
  1. What happened to statesmanship and compromise? An analysis of gridlock and political warfare in the age of hyper-partisanship.
  2. What happened to fair, competitive elections? An analysis of gerrymandering and the reelection of careerist politicians.
  3. What happened to clean bills, legislative leadership, and up-and-down votes? An analysis of shameful legislative maneuvers and rules.
  4. Does my vote count? An analysis of the Electoral College and voter suppression.
  5. What happened to fiscal sanity? An analysis of debts, deficits, and the budgetary process.
  6. Understanding presidential campaigns and elections — An analysis of primaries, front-loading, and nominations.
  7. But some of us are more equal than others — An analysis of big money, super-PACs, and the lobbying industry.
  8. Edward Murrow, where have you gone? An analysis of the crisis in political reporting and social media.
Course # W8M5 — Eight Weeks
  Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
  Dates:Mondays — January 12, 26; February 2, 9, 16, 23; March 2, 9; No class on January 19
  Time:3:45—5:15 p.m.
  Fee:$68/member; $98/non-member