Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

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Taylor Swift comes to campus in OSU’s new public policy class

Kate Zinke
Hilary Boudet (she/her) talking with Erika Wolters (not pictured) on March 6, 2024 in Bexel Hall.

Oregon State University’s School of Public Policy has implemented a brand new class for Spring 2024 surrounding Taylor Swift and her impact on policy around the country. 

Hilary Boudet, an associate professor in sociology and public policy and Erika Wolters, associate director of the public policy undergraduate program, co-created this class after Boudet attended a conference surrounding public policy. There she learned about other universities planning to offer similar courses and started wondering how they could do the same at OSU. 

“I think it’d be a way to introduce students to a topic that may seem far away and hard to understand what public policy actually is,” Boudet said. “(I thought) this would be a good entry point, because (Taylor Swift) has had a lot of influence.”

Boudet and Wolters started crafting ideas on how to create the course and observed how other universities were bringing the idea of Swift and public policy to life.

The course is set to bring in different people to speak on the impact Swift has had in different aspects of public policy. These include topics surrounding LGBTQ+, the economic impact of her “Eras Tour,” her posts on social media about voting, gender and feminism and more. 

“I am really excited to learn about the business and economic sides of Taylor Swift’s tour,” said Erin Wheilhan, a third-year student studying business administration who is registered for the course. “I have seen various statistics online, but getting to learn more in depth information in an academic course environment will be extremely eye-opening and exciting.”

They will bring in Bob Santelli,  the director of popular music and performing arts at OSU, who was a part of Swift’s exhibit in the Grammy Museum and has interviewed her several times.  Additionally, they will include an OSU alumni photographer who has worked behind the scenes with film and photography on Swift’s Eras tour.

“What was difficult was thinking about the topics that we weren’t going to have time to cover,” Wolters said. 

Boudet and Wolters really want the class to be lighthearted and not a cause of stress for students. 

“(We’re) really just trying to make it something that’s accessible and sort of fun,” Wolters said. 

One thing they really want to focus on is Swift’s economic impact, especially when it comes to her ongoing “Eras Tour.” 

“When she wrapped up the (United States) tour, then we were starting to get the numbers,” Wolters said. “She’s a billionaire now. Money that she’s brought in, money that she’s donated to all these communities, the impact (of it) was pretty impressive.”  

Wolters compared Swift’s success to the success of Michael Jackson. In the past, Boudett has taught other classes focused on celebrities and public policy.

Boudet and Wolters hope to bring this class into future terms, as well as add an Ecampus option.

Students were able to begin registering for this class in February, and are able to until the end of week one of Spring term. The class will be held from 9 to 9:50 a.m. in the Learning Innovation Center, with the capacity being 200 students. 

The class will be worth 1 credit hour, falling under the elective category.

“I am taking this course because I really enjoy Taylor Swift’s music and have been extremely fascinated by the impact of her tour on the economy and public policy,” Whelihan said. “Getting to blend these things into a course sounds awesome.”

Boudet and Walters both expressed how much fun putting the course together has been, and are excited for students to participate in it when the term begins. 

“What I’m really excited about is to help students see some of the connections here,” Boudet said. “I think the students will be very able to talk about how Taylor Swift has influenced their life in some way, right?”

The pair is looking forward to starting the important conversation surrounding Taylor Swift and all she’s done. 

“This makes sense,” Wolters said. “It’s time to talk about her.”

Erika Wolters (left) and Hilary Boudet (right), discussing some of the plans for the new public policy class on March 6, 2024 in Bexel Hall.
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