Schewel’s students reflect on his campaign for Durham mayor

Schewel’s students reflect on his campaign for Durham mayor

Here’s what two of mayoral candidate Steve Schewel’s former students have to say about his leadership, both in the classroom and potentially for Durham.

Above: Steve Schewel. Photo from the Durham Herald-Sun.

What do Steve Schewel’s students think about his campaign for Durham mayor?

With the municipal election next week, CollegeTown spoke with two of Schewel’s former students to find out.

The mayoral candidate teaches a political participation and leadership course at Duke, where he is both an alumnus and a visiting assistant professor at the university’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Schewel has taught at Duke since spring 2013, although he is not teaching this semester because of his campaign.

Here’s what two of Schewel’s former students have to say about his leadership, both in the classroom and potentially for Durham.

Julia Donheiser: How does Schewel’s outlook on political leadership, as taught in his class, inform his campaign for mayor?

Isabel Giacomazzi: Professor Schewel never imposed his political views on the class, but I know he is dedicated to change through community development and grassroots change.

Harry Elworthy: Steve made clear in his class the high standards he has for leadership. Above all, he believes in leaders that care for all of their constituents. He is vehemently opposed to interest group politics and wants leaders that are as informed and accomplished as he is.

JD: If Schewel wins the election, which aspects of his teaching style might translate to his role as mayor?

IG: Professor Schewel is extremely thoughtful and respectful of opinions and experiences. Our class consisted of roundtable discussions, facilitated by Schewel so that every voice would be heard. Every comment in class was greeted with consideration and empathy.

He pushed us to consider issues that were important to us and to think of ways we could effectively promote change in those areas. These qualities of empathy, respect and open mindedness would translate to his role as mayor.

HE: He runs a bomb seminar, the best I’ve been in. He does a great job of getting everyone’s input and keeping the discussion unbiased while throwing his own ideas in the mix.

He’s also incredibly well read and informed, and happy to talk about any issue openly, even by Duke professor standards. This guy plows through books.

JD: How might Schewel’s leadership in the classroom translate to leadership for Durham?

IG: Professor Schewel led our class, but truly let us lead as well. Class was a collaboration rather than just a lecture, and Schewel often reminded us that he was learning from us, too.

[If he wins the election], Schewel will undoubtedly listen to every voice in Durham and affect change that will benefit everyone in the community — not just those who are most vocal or well-funded.

JD: As an international student, how did Schewel shape your view of American politics — especially at the local level?

HE: I was really inspired by how passionate he is about his work for Durham City Council. Especially coming from New Zealand, a smaller country with a more lightweight bureaucracy, it can be tempting to think that local us government doesn’t matter or won’t get anything done. But Steve flipped me on that. If I become a public servant, it will be because of him.

Julia Donheiser
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