Friday, May 29, 2015

Rethinking Poli-Sci

Inside Higher Ed
May 29th, 2015

What are the root causes of inequality? Why does war break out? What stories can data tell about politics? These are some of the big questions many undergraduates hope to tackle in introductory level political science, only to find that departments on the vast majority of campuses ask them to choose specialized subfields -- heavy on theory and modeling -- early on.
Disappointed, some students abandon the discipline before they ever get to those issues. Political scientists at Stanford University want to change that. They’re overhauling the undergraduate major to make it less like the graduate curriculum and more immediately relevant to students’ lives and interests, adding a new introductory course that isn't based on any one subfield and an additional concentration track for data science enthusiasts. Whether the changes will stem the steep drop in numbers of majors in the department remains to be seen. But they’re already notable for how they align with ongoing internal criticism of the discipline’s approach to undergraduate education. Will other departments follow suit?

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