Thursday, January 03, 2013

Political Science in the 21st Century

Today I received a hard copy of the American Political Science Association's Political Science in the 21st Century Task Force Report. I read through it, and its discussion of how to make political science research relevant is not very good.

My discontent stems from the fact that it totally ignores social media, which currently is the most important source of connection between political science and the wider world. In fact, I did a search and found no mention of the word "internet." The report therefore has an old fashioned flavor, seemingly unaware of the important trends of the 21st century. Thinking of such trends, I have opted out of receiving APSA journals in hard copy, yet I receive this report dated October 2011 in January 2013. There is in fact a PDF available online, so I chucked the hardcopy straight into the recycling bin (or maybe they are just late in sending it to me, and I am whining long after everyone else already did).

There is no mention of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or other media. Instead, we get reference to a single New York Times article from 2009 where a reporter complains about political science. Therefore the report was badly outdated long before its publication. The Monkey Cage blog began in November 2007 and so was there for everyone to see before this report was completed. Apparently the authors knew nothing about it, or the many blogs on a wide variety of topics written by professors that engage the mainstream media and others who have traditionally been skeptical of the discipline. Dan Drezner had a good post on this topic in November.

I don't want to be harsh, but I do want the political science establishment to budge a little bit more. There are a lot of cool things going on in the 21st century and APSA should be cognizant of that.


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