Plato and the Dove Commercial: Practical Applications of Political Philosophy and Feminism in the Classroom

25 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2010

Date Written: January 31, 2010


During the Fall 2009 semester, ‘Gender and Political Theory’ was offered for only the second time on the Sam Houston State University campus. The goal of the course was to elaborate the linkages between the canon of political philosophy, feminist theory and contemporary practice. Because there are no ‘Introduction to Women’s Studies’ courses at Sam Houston State University, this iteration of the course contained more introductory material than would be typical in a similar upper-level elective, and was specifically introduced to the students with a strong emphasis on practical contemporary applications. In the second week of classes, unprompted, a student emailed in a link to the Dove film called ‘Evolution’. This both proved that application as a way of thinking was taking place and illustrated both the need for, and success of, courses and assignments that challenge students to elaborate applications.

This project focuses on setting the tone and designing assignments for an undergraduate class in a manner that will foster practical applications regardless of requirements. While it has long been the ambition of feminist courses to change the way students exist in the world, this particular course contributes to that endeavor in a peculiar way: it invites students to find practical applications of the political philosophy – feminist theory relationship. The specific points of focus in this invitation and in this course were: Use of introductory material at the start of the course; Assignment design (open-ended paper assignments, elaboration of original research questions, progression of assignments, workshops); Practical applications (this area involved students as contributors and also stretched beyond the course).

Keywords: Political Theory, Theory-Practice Link, Feminist Critique

Suggested Citation

Kovacs, Melinda, Plato and the Dove Commercial: Practical Applications of Political Philosophy and Feminism in the Classroom (January 31, 2010). APSA 2010 Teaching & Learning Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Melinda Kovacs (Contact Author)

Sam Houston State University ( email )

1803 Ave I
Huntsville, TX 77341
United States

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