Political Science Education and the Profession

Active and Student-Centered Teaching and Learning Methods in International Studies at the University of Miami

John Twichell University of Miami
This paper explores the value of student-centered “in context” learning in IS programs. It evaluates application of and key benefits of different hands-on activities such as debates, geopolitical simulations, negotiations and role play. Building on the existing literature, it describes the active learning techniques we have adopted for introductory undergraduate IS courses at the University of Miami. The debates and simulations, which find students working collaboratively in teams, are structured to meet clear learning outcomes. These techniques concurrently provide a student-centered classroom setting that we find conducive to more effective learning of International Relations theory and to greater understanding of complex global problems. The paper further explores how to best relate these student-centered teaching strategies with “outside the classroom” capstone and internship experiences. We envision our paper promoting dialogue consistent with the conference workshop themes and objectives.