Public 2-Year Schools

Ocean County College’s Jennifer Barnes & Jason Ghibsi Talk Politics


Karl Marx once wrote, “The human being is in the most literal sense a political animal.”

Groucho Marx, meanwhile, pointed out, “All people are born alike – except Republicans and Democrats.”

Politics, of course, is not so simply black and white, or red and blue.

Ocean County College Political Science Lecturer Jennifer L. Barnes, Esq. (Coordinator of the Governmental Affairs Institute) and Political Science/History Lecturer Jason Ghibesi (Program Chair for Global Studies and Chair of the Global Education Committee) can attest to all three statements.


They Both Said: “My interest in politics and government began when I was a child.”

He Said: “My parents were politically active and politics was a regular conversation around our dinner table,” noted Ghibesi, a graduate of Saint Rose High School in Belmar. “As a child, I was more interested in the Sunday morning political talk shows such as McLaughlin Group rather than video games.”

At Seton Hall University, Ghibesi majored in Political Science and minored in Asian Studies, then earned a Master’s in Public Administration from Kean University. He now lives in Howell, and has taught at OCC since 2007.

She Said: “My father was very interested in (political) topics and they were often the discussion at the dinner table,” said Barnes, who grew up in Jersey City and Bayonne before moving to Bay Head. “The first election I recall was in 1980 when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter. I remember my father being very happy that the price of gasoline would drop!”

Barnes double majored in Political Science and History at St. Peter’s University, then attended New York Law School. Following a clerkship in the Superior Court of New Jersey, she went into private practice, specializing in employment and professional liability law. She began working at OCC in August 2015.


He Said: “I have never run for public office; however, I have quite a bit of experience working on various campaigns,” Ghibesi remarked. “I also provided political commentary for the Asbury Park Press throughout the 2016 presidential election season.”

She Said: Barnes joined the Bay Head Council in 2009, and currently serves as the Chair of the Legal & Planning Committee, and on the Public Safety Committee and Public Services Committee. “We all have a responsibility to use our time, energy, and talents to ensure that our hometown is a great place to reside,” she explained.


He Said: “My passions and research interests lie within the realm of international relations, in particular international law and organization and the politics of humanitarianism,” Ghibesi stated. “I also am extremely interested in politics surrounding the election process. I love to analyze the polls as well as the strategies that candidates use to attempt to win votes.”

She Said: “The relationship between elected officials and their constituents is a fascinating one,” said Barnes. “And it intrigues me how American politicians can view the very same issue so differently, and how people can have such opposing visions for our nation, when we can all agree that we should always do what is best for the United

States. The hard part though, is defining what ‘best’ is – everyone has such different interpretations of what that word means.”


He Said: In his international politics courses, Ghibesi aims to help his students gain “a better understanding of the United States’ role in the world. This includes an understanding of how different groups of people (i.e. states, NGOs, IGOs, and corporations) interact with each other and how these interactions impact the U.S.”

“Classes typically involve lectures, group activities, video clips, discussions, and guest speakers. My ‘Global Issues’ class was fortunate to be able to Skype with humanitarian Kevin Bales,” the author of Disposable People, which, Ghibesi said, is “a required reading for the course (from) the preeminent scholar on modern slavery.”

She Said: “I like to add humor to my lectures and engage the students with group discussions. When students are contributing in a conversational setting, they learn. They hear the viewpoints of other classmates and learn to be tolerant of people who may disagree with their ideological beliefs.”

“Another great tool for learning is by directly exposing students to individuals who work in government,” said Barnes, who has invited numerous elected officials to speak to her classes, including Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, Congressman Tom MacArthur, and Assemblyman David Wolfe.


He Said: “Each class involves a discussion of current events. I always advise students to use a diverse cross-section of news sources to ensure that they get a well-rounded perspective of the issues.” Ghibesi himself utilizes “a diverse collection of sources that range from the New York Times to the BBC. I also love my Politico App.”

She Said: “It’s teaching history as it is being made,” Barnes said of incorporating current events in her classes. “I follow the news from the local level to the international level. I mostly follow American federal government and politics, but I also pay attention to international news because that impacts America as well.”


He Said: “One of the most important things I can do as a lecturer is educate students on the importance of voting and participating in politics,” said Ghibesi, who serves as faculty advisor for the student club S.L.A.P. (Students Learning about Politics), which coordinates an annual voter registration drive. “It is crucial for students to understand that they must have their voices heard, as the decisions made by elected officials will have long-lasting ramifications that will directly impact their lives and careers.”

She Said: Barnes commented, “I joke with my students that they have three civic responsibilities: voting, serving as a juror, and paying taxes! I am always encouraging my students to use their voices via the voting booth. I believe it is my responsibility to educate them about the history of government in America, the system that we utilize, and the roles each branch of government plays. If you understand the history and the process, you are better prepared to cast an educated vote.”


He Said: “Whenever my students ask for my personal opinion (on political issues and affiliation), I always refuse to tell them,” Ghibesi noted. “My job is to teach them about politics, government, political institutions, and the like. I pride myself on doing my best to teach politics from a non-biased perspective.”

She Said: Barnes agreed, stating, “I very strongly believe that it is my job to objectively educate students about American government and the political process, not to indoctrinate them with my own political views. I will present the students with the information – how they interpret that is up to them.