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Fashion Student Discovers New Interest in Politics after Trans-Pacific Partnership Debate

By Meaghan Cayer on April 14, 2017
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This past year was the setting for a heated presidential election, but Fashion student Sam Ramos wasn't very involved – until her Global Markets professor found a teachable moment from the news for her class. 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal was a hotly contested issue at the time and happened to connect with their class curriculum, which focused on the interrelationship between retailers, suppliers and consumers in the global economy. 

In essence, the TPP was a proposed trade agreement between twelve countries – Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru and the United States. It covered a broad range of goods and services – from financial services, to food safety, to textiles and apparel – taking each of the countries' approaches and standards into account. 

The class decided to have a debate of their own to see how real political issues like the TPP could affect the fashion industry. First, students learned about the pros and cons of the trade deal as a class. They were then each assigned to be 'for' or 'against' it. The two groups extensively researched their sides and put together visual presentations which were used to stage an in-class debate.  

Sam was assigned to the side 'for' the deal. 

"I was surprised about how much went into it. When I first heard about it, I didn't know much. But then we started researching it and seeing how many steps there were, how involved it was, what went into implementing it. There was a whole chapter just for apparel!" 

"The actual debate was my favorite part. It was tough, because we learned so much about it in class – but you learn the good and the bad, and you're left to make your own opinion about it. It was interesting to see what other people found out about it and to discuss it as a class. I liked hearing everyone's opinions about it and why they thought that way." 

The process gave Sam a new-found confidence in her ability to get involved with politics. 

"Before that class, I never really took part in the election. I wasn't educated on it much. After taking this class, I was learning so much and was like 'Oh wow, I actually understand this!' And I actually did like learning about it. In the future, I'll be more apt to look into issues if they spark my interest." 

When she does, she'll know exactly where to find the information online! 

To learn more about this and other service learning initiatives at Bay State College, click here.