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Teaching Global Citizens: Following the News
Unformatted Document Text:  Jennifer Rutledge and Serena Laws “Educating Global Citizens” **DRAFT ** education and engagement. In order to explore these concerns, we have to determine whether or not professors of introductory political science courses consciously include contemporary issues of international politics in their courses. To this end, we conducted interviews with instructors of introductory political science courses in an effort to understand their approaches to teaching the course. Further, our sense is that students signing up for these courses actually expect to learn about important issues, and are disappointed or frustrated by the actual course content. Thus we also conducted a brief survey of introductory political science students to determine why they took the course, what they expected to learn, and what their level of political knowledge was coming into the course. In the next phase of the study we will conduct a post-questionnaire with the same students at the end of this semester. The purpose of that questionnaire will be to determine what students have learned, and how the course content compared to their expectations going into the class. II. Background There is an extensive literature on the dismal level of political knowledge and its relationship to civic engagement. A number of studies suggest that students today are less connected to the democratic process than in the past. This reflects both a lack of political knowledge as well as a lack of interest in politics. These shortcomings have troubling implications for the future of our polity. Even with differing ideas about what exactly it is that democracy requires of its citizens and what ‘good’ citizens do in that democracy (Westheimer and Kahn, 2004), there is a consensus that civic engagement is desirable in a democracy. Empirical evidence suggests that political knowledge is a direct predictor of political participation (Niemi and Junn, 1998). Again, scholars disagree about precisely what the 3

Authors: Rutledge, Jennifer. and Laws, Serena.
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background image
Jennifer Rutledge and Serena Laws
“Educating Global Citizens” **DRAFT **
education and engagement.
In order to explore these concerns, we have to determine whether or not professors of
introductory political science courses consciously include contemporary issues of international
politics in their courses. To this end, we conducted interviews with instructors of introductory
political science courses in an effort to understand their approaches to teaching the course.
Further, our sense is that students signing up for these courses actually expect to learn about
important issues, and are disappointed or frustrated by the actual course content. Thus we also
conducted a brief survey of introductory political science students to determine why they took
the course, what they expected to learn, and what their level of political knowledge was coming
into the course. In the next phase of the study we will conduct a post-questionnaire with the same
students at the end of this semester. The purpose of that questionnaire will be to determine what
students have learned, and how the course content compared to their expectations going into the
class.
II. Background
There is an extensive literature on the dismal level of political knowledge and its
relationship to civic engagement. A number of studies suggest that students today are less
connected to the democratic process than in the past. This reflects both a lack of political
knowledge as well as a lack of interest in politics. These shortcomings have troubling
implications for the future of our polity. Even with differing ideas about what exactly it is that
democracy requires of its citizens and what ‘good’ citizens do in that democracy (Westheimer
and Kahn, 2004), there is a consensus that civic engagement is desirable in a democracy.
Empirical evidence suggests that political knowledge is a direct predictor of political
participation (Niemi and Junn, 1998). Again, scholars disagree about precisely what the
3


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