Seeking Relevance: Toward a Strategic Plan for Political Science

19 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 25 Aug 2015

See all articles by Robert Maranto

Robert Maranto

University of Arkansas - Department of Education Reform

Dirk van Raemdonck

University of Arkansas - Department of Education Reform

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

‎ Surveys suggest that in the 1970s most political scientists wished they had chosen a ‎different profession, a true tragedy, as Ricci (1984) writes. We discuss the causes of ‎alienation, but also offer data suggesting that the situation had improved markedly by ‎‎1999. We speculate that this has much to do with a better job market and more realistic ‎expectations about that job market. Nonetheless, all is not well. Both conservative ‎senators and prominent political scientists continue to question the importance of Political ‎Science (e.g., Cohen 1999). The APSA has attempted to increase its relevance by ‎returning to its Progressive roots, attempting to shape public policy in a statist direction. ‎We argue that such attempts will lack empirical power and political legitimacy, and thus ‎will have little impact. Instead, using lenses borrowed from strategic planning and from ‎the public personnel management literature, we argue that our field should build stronger ‎links with the applied world. Second, APSA needs to study and systematize public ‎personnel issues of the field, much as we have already (quite properly) done regarding ‎race and gender issues. Third, we should encourage political debate within the field. This ‎would require valuing political diversity and intellectual flexibility. Finally, to a ‎considerable degree the Political Science niche is that of a prep school for lawyers. This is ‎not the right market for us. Rather, given American voters' remarkable ignorance of the ‎political system, we should take over new markets: undergraduate civic education and the ‎training of secondary social studies teachers. In this way we can, over time, assure both a ‎more rational electorate and our own relevance. ‎

Keywords: political science, academia, civic education, graduate study

Suggested Citation

Maranto, Robert and van Raemdonck, Dirk, Seeking Relevance: Toward a Strategic Plan for Political Science (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1643194

Robert Maranto (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas - Department of Education Reform ( email )

201 Graduate Education Building
Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States
479-575-3225 (Phone)
479-575-3196 (Fax)

Dirk Van Raemdonck

University of Arkansas - Department of Education Reform ( email )

201 Graduate Education Building
Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

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