Public Opinion and Propaganda 
Spring, 2009
Dr. William L. Rosenberg 
9-3021-D MacAlister Hall 

This course is designed to introduce the student to the concepts and principles of public opinion and propaganda.  Emphasis will be directed toward the social sciences and Political Science in particular. However, an examination of advertising, public relations, and media will also be covered in the course.

It is expected that the student come prepared to class. This includes having read all assigned reading materials, completed all project assignments, and be actively engaged in the process of learning. If at any time throughout the course the student has a problem or question he/she should contact the professor. If the student has any special needs, they must be communicated to the professor by the end of week 1. Class attendance is not an optional exercise. In addition to class and office hours, a voice mail option is available 24 hours a day at (215) 895-1302. Be sure to leave your name, a short message, and a number that you may be reached at. You may also leave e-mail messages at the address listed above. 

All papers and projects and examinations are due on the assigned date. A letter grade will be deducted for each day a project is overdue.  This reduction in grade starts at the time of collection. It is not an acceptable option to not complete any portion of this course. 

Text:     Public Opinion
             Glynn, Herbst, O'Keefe and Shapiro
 Westview Press,  Latest Edition

Suggested reading

Public Opinion by Walter Lippman (1922)

Additional assignments will be available via the web site and as reading packets. 

General Reading and Viewing Assignments 

Week 1   Propaganda Techniques.  Review Propaganda Web site   Review the propaganda techniques presented.   Material in press regarding Afghanistan-US PR war, Article 1Article 2, Article 3, Article 4.  Also review  War, Propaganda and the Media. Film: Wag the Dog.  Text Chapters: 4, 5.  

Week 2   Meaning and History of Public Opinion.  United States Government Efforts. Review how the Muslim world views the US (recent Gallup opinion poll) and Arab Public Opinion.  Autobiography due. April 6, 2009. Text Chapters: 1, 2, 7.

Weeks 3-4  Reporting of Surveys. Twenty questions every Journalist should ask? Discussion on the methods of measurement for public opinion research.  Surveys and focus groups. Development of a focus group and the facilitation and analysis of the material.   Review Polling 101 a Roper Center document. Review materials on the course resources page.  Pay particular attention to how focus groups are used as well as the techniques associated with telephone, web, mail, intercept and one-on-one surveys. Film: Magic Town. Text Chapter 3.

Week Midterm examination.  Film: Triumph of the Will.

Week 6  German and Japanese and Soviet Propaganda.  Review "The Eternal Jew" Web Site  Look at the text, film images and the illustrations. Review the German Propaganda Archive  Be sure to read "Goebbels on Propaganda".  Review Soviet Propaganda Site.  Also to be addressed Review Poster Art from WWII .  Poster Analysis Worksheet.  Text Chapter 6.

Week 7  Political Campaigns.   Discussion of the role of public opinion in the electoral process.  Annual National Election Study (ANES)  as well as the role of public opinion studies on elections. Review How Chris Hughes Helped Launch Facebook and Barack Obama Campaign. Potential films: Journey's with George and/or The War Room . Guest Speaker. Text Chapter: 12.

Week 8  Political Advertising.  Review Political Media Buying: A Brief GuideReview the "30 Second Candidate" Site.  Guest Speaker.   Text Chapter: 11. Practicum Due.

Week 9  Role of lobbyists in our political system.  Read the following article prior to the guest speaker: "Interest Group Activity in the States",  by Anthony J. Nownes and Patricia Freeman, University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The Journal of Politics, Vol. 60, No. 1, February 1998, pp.86-112. Pay particular attention to the activities of lobbyists.  Video of guest speaker: Mr. Arthur Herrmann, Lobbyist.

Week 10  Persuasive campaigns.  Health campaigns and advertising. Advocating for Adolescent Reproductive Health in Sub-Saharan Africa. Human Rights Information Pack dealing with Female Genital Mutilation.  Prime Time Propaganda (Television and the Government)   Additional health campaigns including anti-drug and anti-smoking will also be discussed. Additional written materials to be provided.


Electronic Notes and Resources:

Some printed materials will also be made available through the reserve room at the Haggerty Library and or through electronic access.

You are expected to monitor and review the Gallup Poll News Service weekly.  Other polls include ABC News Polls  the Washington Post Polls and The Polling Report . You should be prepared to discuss the material related to prominent poll results in class each week.

Other important resources include:

Annual National Election Study (ANES)  as well as the Survey Documentation and Analysis a Center at the University of California, Berkley which houses the General Social Survey.

Written Assignments

Class Exercises

The following exercises are required for this course.  While they are not graded assignments (A, B, C etc.) they are required. If they are not satisfactorily completed, 0 points will be added to your class exercises grade for each assignment.  This section of your grade is worth a total of 20 points.  In total,  five assignments will be given.  You may choose to to not complete one of the assignments. There will be no make-up or turning in assignments late for any reason, except fully documented family emergency or fully documented medical emergency, unless prior arrangements have been agreed to. In these cases a one week extension may be provided. That is why only 20 points is assigned, with five opportunities to complete them.  There is no extra credit option.  Only 20 points can be achieved.. The concept of "satisfactory" includes both the content related information as well as the grammar and writing aspects of the document.

Autobiography -Exercise 1    -5 points of total class grade

Each student is to write a two page autobiography.  This should discuss who you are, where you are from (background, experiences, etc.) and where you plan to go with your life. This assignment is due Friday, class time April 6, 2009.  It should be emailed to

Practicum Experience -Exercise 2  -10 points of total class grade

Each student is expected to meet with a practitioner involved in forming or effecting public opinion. This may be a politician (professional politician or political aide), advertising person, public relations person, media person, columnist, etc. or other approved person. These are to be professional practitioners. A two page observation report is required to be submitted.  All practicum experiences must be approved by your Professor by week three of the term, prior to participating, to be counted toward this course requirement. The report should include a discussion of what the person does in their position, what techniques they employ, who they interact with and how, what are their goals and or motivations, and what insight the experience gave you of the political system or the marketplace or ideas.  Your are expected to have a practicum experience of at least 1 to 1.5 hours during the term, three hours is preferable, if possible.  The report document should be typed and sent via email to no later than Monday May 18, 2009. The report must include who you were working with and their contact information including their name, title (if applicable) address, phone, email address.

Additional question items that may be explored are:

What does the person or office does on a typical day?
            What types of activities do they undertake?
            Who defines their strategy?
            What do they see as their biggest challenge?
            What do they see as their biggest contribution

Three (3) additional class assignments and/or exercises (5 points each) will be given throughout the term.

Course Grade

Midterm                                                                      30 %
Class Participation and Attendance                              15%
Exercises                                                                     20 %
Final Examination                                                        35 %
Total                                                                         100 %

Exercises are generally assignments/projects which are completed either in class or between classes periods.

Grade Conversion

A+         97-100

A          93-96

A-         90-92

B+         87-89

B          83-86

B-         80-82

C+         77-79

C          73-76

C-         70-72

D+         67-69

D          65-66

F          below 65

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Drexel University's policies and procedures, the University is committed to the non-discrimination of students with disabilities. Student with disabilities requesting accommodations and services at Drexel University need to present a current accommodation verification letter (AVL) to faculty before accommodations can be made. AVLs are issued by the Office of Disability Services (ODS). For additional information, contact the ODS at, 3201 Arch St., Ste. 210, Philadelphia, PA 19104, V 215.895.1401, or TTY 215.895.2299.

For further information contact Dr. William L. Rosenberg
215-895-1302 or