Political Science 291

POSC 291
Political Inquiry

1. Catalog Entry

POSC 291
Political Inquiry

Credit hours (3)
Prerequisites: POSC major, POSC 110 or 120, and either sophomore standing or permission of instructor

Introduces students to the nature of political inquiry and political analysis.  Students will critically examine historical, theoretical and methodological foundations of political science, and study various approaches to political inquiry. The emphasis is on understanding the ways in which scholars engage in rigorous political analysis. This course will explore the broad questions of political inquiry.  What is political knowledge and why is it an important pursuit? How do we critically evaluate political analysis? What processes and theoretical approaches does the discipline of political science use to create and evaluate political knowledge?

2. Detailed Description of Course

    1) Historical Foundations of Political Inquiry
        a. Origins of Political Inquiry
        b. The beginnings of political thought
        c. Distinguishing the ancient from the modern in political thought
        d. Historical development of the discipline
    2) Theoretical Approaches to political science inquiry
        a. Normative vs. positive    
        b. 3 types of research
        c. Empirical
        d. Theoretical
        e. Applied
    3) Communicating in Political Science
        a. The language and terminology of the discipline
        b. How to read and understand political science literature
    4) Finding and Understanding Academic Literature
        a. Conducting literature searches
        b. Synthesizing literature and reviewing literature
    5) Knowledge construction and theory building
        a. What do we know?
        b. What are theories and why are they important?
        c. How do we build on a foundation of knowledge as political scientists?
    6) Interpreting and Evaluating Research and Data
        a. Improving our ability to questions, critique, and analyze data

3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Lecture, applied activities, research, papers, group work

4. Goals and Objectives of the Course

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

Demonstrate the understanding the historical foundations of political inquiry and analysis and their relevance for current methods of inquiry

Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the theoretical approaches to studying political science   

Find and analyze political science academic literature

Interpret and evaluate research studies, and critically analyze and interpret influential political research and texts.

5. Assessment Measures

Research project, literature critique, literature review, in-class activities

6. Other Course Information


Review and Approval

April 23, 2014