Who Am I to Say? Teaching Epistemology for Civic Engagement in Introduction to American Politics Classes


Can you confidently say who won the 2020 Presidential election? If so, how do you know? While many of my students have strong political convictions, when asked the questions above few could adequately explain how they know what they know. Most of our students' information about politics will come from outside of our classrooms, sought in a virtually limitless field of information and misinformation that is literally at their fingertips. How can we give them the tools and confidence to engage as informed political actors? This paper presents one answer to this question, piloted in four Intro to American Politics courses. A focus on epistemology is taught in an opening module and integrated throughout the course. Throughout the semester, students build skills to independently expand and update their knowledge of politics and apply that in real-world civic activities.



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