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From 5th to 19th of May, 2014 Faculty of Social Technologies Business and Media School welcomed Jason Epstein. Lecturer gave an interesting and dynamic course on Political Media for students from double degree program with Middlesex University (MDX)Communication and Creative Technologies (Communication and Creative Industries in MDX). It worth to remind that this is one of the five double degree programs MRU has with MDX and running for the first year. Programs are studied by international both national and international students, taught by national and international lecturers.

Why we call that course dynamic? Jason Epstein who has more than two decades of professional experience in government relations,media affairs, and cultural outreach, not only shared his knowledge, but as well invited his colleagues to talk to students via…Skype! So from one side,students had an opportunity to explore a several contemporary issues of importance to President, Congress, the courts, and the American people. But much more important, they could directly ask the questions to such nowadays event witnesses as Michael McMahon (former U.S.Representative for New York's13th congressional district), Jim Geraghty (a conservative blogger and regular contributor to National Review Online and National Review), Naomi Seligman and many others.

But sooner or later good things come to an end. Even bad things (meaning - exam day) happens. Though the exam questions were also interesting and challenging one. In 90 minutes student had to prepare three essays to discuss three of the five questions – importance of Presidential inaugurations, non governmental organization lobbying of Congress, the importance of choice of vice-presidential running mate via example of Sarah Palin or to rank the actions which they would take if they won the election for US House of Representatives and etc.

“BMS: What is your worst and best impression/experience from teaching in MRU and staying in Lithuania for two weeks? What would you definitely do /not do if you had to repeat all this?

J.E.: Obviously, I greatly appreciated the attentiveness of the administration and faculty. The students appeared genuinely interested in the coursework, not just looking to receive credit for showing up. As for any changes, perhaps I would suggest that any future class be extended by one week.

BMS: What were your motives to skype your acquaintances (invite quest lecturers) from USA?Who of your interviewers surprised you the most? Any discoveries for yourself?

J.E.: I am a very capable individual(of course!) but not an expert in all public policy sub-fields. I have found that bringing in guest lecturers who are experts in these topics — whether they are residing at the moment in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, or Prague — tend to inspire the students. Additionally, it’s a challenge for any lecturer to keep his/her student’s attention for more than 60-90 minutes each class.Hearing other voices makes it more likely that they will remain focused. Ed Whelan, the President of the Ethics and Public PolicyCenter think tank, was able to make the conversation about the courts — by no means an easy topic to understand — so clear and concise. Jeff Gedmin, former President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was nice enough to chat with the students from Prague on a Friday early evening. I was surprised that all of the presenters looked forward to the opportunity to talk with the students. It was clear that everyone had come prepared.

BMS: You many times mentioned different films as examples of your course. Could you give the list for the other readers as well? What should theviewer pay attention at while watching them? If you had to shoot a film yourself, what it would be about?

J.E.: I recall mentioning the “Dirty Harry” and “Rambo” series, as well as the original “Red Dawn,” as examples of the films from the 1970s and 80s that oozed Americana.Notice how the protagonists are challenging authority and/or bureaucracy in their quest for justice.

BMS: Imagine you can travel the time. If you could choose one political event or USA history fact to comeback and take your students with you, what it would be?

J.E.: Of the topics we covered, I think either the Kennedy or Reagan inaugurals would be ideal drop-off points. In speeches delivered moments after being sworn into office, they helped set the course for dynamic change in the United States.

BMS: Would you love to repeat this teaching experience and what would be you wish for the students at MRU? What was the main message of your course and does the environment, students, changed it or helped to accomplish it?

J.E.: Absolutely. I would very much enjoy repeating this experience. My MRU students should be happy,healthy, and successful and visit me in the States before I’m too old to recognize them. Although the BMS students may not see a future for themselves in public policy, I hope that this course will encourage them to learn more about the States and become strong advocates for closer ties between Vilnius and Washington.“

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