Political Science Education and the Profession

Rethinking the Undergraduate Political Science Major: The Wahlke Report Revisited

Steven Rathgeb Smith American Political Science Association
Meghan McConaughey American Political Science Association
As new trends and challenges impinge on higher education, reconsideration of the structure and purpose of the political science major will be fundamental in determining its future. The Wahlke report, or “Liberal Learning and the Political Science Major” by John C. Wahlke, was published in 1991 as the Report of Task Force on the Political Science Major, appointed by APSA President Lucian Pye, and as part of volume on “Liberal Learning and Arts and Sciences Majors” compiled by Association of American Colleges. The report set forth a vision of liberal political education, and a set of recommendations for achieving it. In the intervening years, though, new challenges to the political science major—from unsustainable costs and new technologies to changing student populations and demands for new skills—have emerged. The coming challenge will be to respond to these changes while retaining a core structure and coherence of the political science major.