MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For only the fourth time in U.S. history, public impeachment hearings are underway. The nation is watching as Congress debates whether to remove a president from office, and among them are a group of local college students.

Professor Joe Peschek has taught a class on American government and politics since 1987. There have been times throughout Peschek’s 32-year career at Hamline where class studies have run parallel with current events.

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In the late 1990s, part of his class centered on President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, which ended with Clinton’s acquittal. Twenty years later, he’s teaching a new generation about the process.

“In this class we’ve paid a lot of attention to the impeachment because it’s really intensified, just coinciding with our semester,” he said.

As things got underway in Washington, Wednesday morning’s lesson was about learning who the main players are, a chance for students to wrap their heads around what’s happened so far, and what could happen going forward.

“He does a great job of telling us what’s going on today and teaching us also, like how does this connect to the Constitution? And how does government work?,” student Fatumo Mohamed said.

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Typically, only about 20% of Peschek’s class centers around current events. But the impeachment inquiry has changed that just a bit.

“This is a big deal. It doesn’t happen very often. It is the most frequent current events topic we’ve discussed,” Peschek said.

But the class isn’t just about the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump. Other topics and issues will take precedent. Still, it’s a real-life learning tool that only happens every generation or so.

“What I hope is that they’ll connect what they’ve learned about the impeachment inquiry to broader learning about how our political system works,” he said.

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The class will run through mid-December. This is just the first step as students get familiar with Ukraine, the whistleblower, Trump and the Bidens, along with what Democrats and Republicans are ultimately trying to accomplish.

John Lauritsen