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How Far Will You (Let Them) Go? Bold New Frontiers in Classroom Leadership Roles for Undergraduates
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Paul Dosh APSA Teaching and Learning Conference University of California, Berkeley American University ## email not listed ## February 19-21, 2004 How Far Will You (Let Them) Go? Bold New Frontiers in Classroom Leadership Roles for Undergraduates Introduction In my Latin American politics courses, students explore concepts and theories through a variety of role-played simulations. Students advise Brazilian President Lula da Silva on economic policy, prosecute (and defend!) ex-dictators in Guatemala, plot a coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and even run corrupt campaigns to win the 2006 Mexican elections. In another class, students test the claims of the democratic transitions literature through a simulation of institution-building in post-war Iraq. In one scenario, U.S. Administrator Paul Bremer found it impossible to mediate the conflicting demands of actors like the Iraqi National Congress and the Kurdish Democratic Party, resulting in a collapse of negotiations and renewed violence in Iraq. But rather than using published or instructor-created simulations, these simulations are created, directed, and evaluated by the students themselves, from start to finish. Such student-created simulations are one of five types of "student-centered curriculum" described in this paper that put students in charge of major parts of their political science education. But why put students in charge? Expanding the "frontier" of leadership roles for undergraduates can foster enthusiasm and capacity for civic and political engagement. By offering students a pedagogy that demonstrates profound respect for their abilities to shape their classroom environment, we help instill and reinforce each student's belief that he or she can likewise shape their broader social and political environment. In this way, student-centered curriculum reinforces the critical contributions of other classes that are aimed explicitly at civic engagement activities. What is student-centered curriculum? Grounded in constructivist educational philosophy (e.g. Piaget, Vygotsky, Montessori), student-centered curriculum hinges on the belief that students "construct" their own knowledge (as opposed to the "banking" or "empty vessel" approach). Such curriculum begins with where the student is and where she is naturally motivated to go, rather than beginning with where the student ought to be and where her teachers want to take her. This means that each student has regular leadership opportunities and often initiates projects of her own design.

Authors: Dosh, Paul.
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1
Paul Dosh
APSA Teaching and Learning Conference
University of California, Berkeley
American University
## email not listed ##
February
19-21,
2004
How Far Will You (Let Them) Go?
Bold New Frontiers in Classroom Leadership Roles for Undergraduates
Introduction

In my Latin American politics courses, students explore concepts and theories through a variety
of role-played simulations. Students advise Brazilian President Lula da Silva on economic
policy, prosecute (and defend!) ex-dictators in Guatemala, plot a coup against Venezuelan
President Hugo Chávez, and even run corrupt campaigns to win the 2006 Mexican elections.

In another class, students test the claims of the democratic transitions literature through a
simulation of institution-building in post-war Iraq. In one scenario, U.S. Administrator Paul
Bremer found it impossible to mediate the conflicting demands of actors like the Iraqi National
Congress and the Kurdish Democratic Party, resulting in a collapse of negotiations and renewed
violence in Iraq.

But rather than using published or instructor-created simulations, these simulations are created,
directed, and evaluated by the students themselves, from start to finish. Such student-created
simulations are one of five types of "student-centered curriculum" described in this paper that put
students in charge of major parts of their political science education.
But why put students in charge?
Expanding the "frontier" of leadership roles for undergraduates can foster enthusiasm and
capacity for civic and political engagement. By offering students a pedagogy that demonstrates
profound respect for their abilities to shape their classroom environment, we help instill and
reinforce each student's belief that he or she can likewise shape their broader social and political
environment. In this way, student-centered curriculum reinforces the critical contributions of
other classes that are aimed explicitly at civic engagement activities.
What is student-centered curriculum?

Grounded in constructivist educational philosophy (e.g. Piaget, Vygotsky, Montessori), student-
centered curriculum hinges on the belief that students "construct" their own knowledge (as
opposed to the "banking" or "empty vessel" approach). Such curriculum begins with where the
student is and where she is naturally motivated to go, rather than beginning with where the
student ought to be and where her teachers want to take her. This means that each student has
regular leadership opportunities and often initiates projects of her own design.


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