Thursday, February 28, 2019

Is Political Science Relevant?

Michael Desch makes an oft-repeated argument at The Chronicle that Political Science is no longer policy relevant. I've refuted this argument many times over the years:




2014 (which was Nicholas Kristoff)

There are problems with translation, especially with sophisticated methodologies (I organized a LASA panel about the academia-policy connection in 2014). We need to consciously bridge that gap. Many, many people already are.

There are boatloads of political scientists publishing op-eds in major newspapers, writing posts at The Monkey Cage (which has a national, and definitely DC, audience) or other online outlets, giving presentations at conferences hosted by the government (e.g. State and DoD), getting grants from the U.S. government (not just NSF but also Minerva, which is aimed at the social sciences), tweeting to thousands, or even tens of thousands, of people on policy, talking on podcasts, or even working in the government (which has been true in recent years of a number of political science professors).

I think there is a case to be made that political science is more widely read and relevant now than ever before. There are far more avenues to reach the eyeballs of the public and policy makers than in the past. If I had these ideas 30 years ago, what could I even do? Maybe write them in an email to the few people who had an account. That's about it.

Barack Obama talked about reading How Democracies Die, written by two political scientists. How much more relevant do you want?


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