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Tumbling Political Theory

19 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2013  

Ari Kohen

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 25, 2013


In recent years, I have experimented with using technology both in and out of the classroom walls, most notably by creating a popular Twitter-based component to one of my political theory courses. This year, however, I decided to do something quite radical and I did away with the medium-length essays I have traditionally assigned in my ancient political theory course — which cause a great deal of angst, don’t offer opportunities for revision, and in which students show the least improvement over time — in favor of shorter, more dynamic writing assignments.

The model I had in my mind was a sort of on-going, virtual symposium, and I decided to make use of Tumblr to afford students a venue for their ideas. I chose Tumblr as our blogging platform because it is quite easy to use and because it is social. In particular, with Tumblr’s Dashboard, students are able to follow one another’s blogs and easily comment, like, and reblog what their classmates are writing.

The goal, ultimately, is to make students aware that political theorists can write for a larger audience, not just for a college professor who will read and then forget; I hope also to demonstrate that blogging affords immediate feedback and gives them opportunities to easily reevaluate their ideas and rewrite.

This paper describes and evaluates the experiment of using Tumblr blogging in a traditional political theory course.

Keywords: Tumblr, internet, blogging, technology, political theory, education, teaching

Suggested Citation

Kohen, Ari, Tumbling Political Theory (January 25, 2013). 2013 APSA Teaching and Learning Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Ari Kohen (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Political Science ( email )

511 Oldfather Hall
P.O. Box 880328
Lincoln, NE 68588-0328
United States

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