Political Science Education and the Profession

Affecting the World: Political Science Education and Relevance

Matthew Stein Temple University
Since APSA’s establishment, American political scientists have sought to bridge the gap between scholarly research and political action. Frank Goodnow, the first president of APSA argued in 1904 that the study of politics should speak to the political world. Over 100 years later, former APSA president Jennifer Hochschild echoes Goodnow by arguing that increased relevance is one cause for optimism in politically pessimistic times. One approach to becoming relevant which is often overlooked is a turn to focusing on classroom education. Although the desire to become more relevant is noble, success will require that we view teaching as a gateway to, rather than an obstacle to becoming relevant. Undergraduates who major in political science work in the very fields we wish to discuss and impact including government, law, and non-profit organizations. Therefore, if we wish to be a relevant field, political science academics ought to primarily focus on student education.