The School of Public Policy plans to examine the intersection of popular culture and activism through the lens of Taylor Swift’s career.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift
Credit: iHeartRadioCA

By Jessica Florescu, CLA Student Writer - February 23, 2024

Imagine taking a class at OSU that never goes out of style. It’s a class where you can step into your own lavender haze filled with discussions about a Grammy award-winning music icon and one of the world’s most successful recording artists. This class is about more than just a talented singer or a gifted musician; students will examine the economic, political, and cultural effects of one of the most inspiring female leaders in the music industry today. If you’re interested in taking a course beyond your wildest dreams, then join Dr. Erika Wolters and Dr. Hilary Boudet this spring for Taylor Swift and Public Policy: ERAs of Activism, Influence, and Social Change (PPOL 199). 

Boudet learned about this course idea after attending  a national conference of public policy. She decided to collaborate with Wolters, both aspiring “Swifties,” to design a course completely new to OSU, where each week will focus on a significant aspect of Swift’s career and how it relates to fundamental concepts in public policy. Examples of  weekly topics include the economic impacts of her stadium tours and her influence on voting registration.

“Hilary and I are both aware that she is at a stratospheric level where no one else is. She definitely leveled up recently to hold an even more significant influence in the music industry,” said Wolters when asked about Taylor Swift. 

Each class will be structured around a Swift song or songs. Boudet and Wolters both have their personal favorite “eras” and albums. Wolters said, “Reputation is my favorite, because it was part revenge against those trying to defame her, and simultaneously about falling in and out of love.” Although this album of boldness and empowerment was a major hit, Boudet’s personal favorite is the iconic song “Shake It Off.” According to her, “It’s been fascinating to watch her move outside of country music and then transition between different genres of music throughout her career.”

As a record-breaking celebrity that gained the most Album of the Year wins at the 2024 Grammy Awards, Swift is more than just your typical pop artist. Aside from basic rhythm and chord progressions, what sets Swift apart from the rest is her storytelling ability. The meaning behind her song lyrics has inspired millions and the topics she explored over the years are relatable to many. 

“Maybe her songs are about what is currently going on in your life,” said Boudet. “Or maybe her music reminds you of a memory. Regardless of what it is, her songs stay with you. Given her connection with fans is so strong, we hope to introduce students to the field of public policy through the lens of Taylor Swift. Essentially, through this lens, students will gain an understanding of how public policy affects all of our lives."

For students who are interested in learning more, PPOL199  class will be offered as a one-credit elective spring 2024. Contact the School of Public Policy for more information. But before signing up for this class, simply ask yourself, are you ready for it?

“She is an amazing role model for young women to see as she continues to redefine her own music,” Wolters said.