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Teaching Students about Congress and Civic Engagement

  • B. Welling Hall (a1)
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As a tenured, full professor in an endowed peace studies chair at my home institution, I chose to spend my 2009–10 sabbatical year as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. Why? As I saw it, my colleagues who teach chemistry need to work with electron spectrometers; my colleagues who teach ethnomusicology need to perform with Javanese gamelans. In an analogous way, I believed that my own work with Congress would energize and refocus my research and teaching. All subfields of intellectual inquiry have their blind spots, and within the subfield of peace studies the largest blind spot may be the perspective that I thought might be gained from being a foreign policy insider. Again and again, my courses began and ended with students asking me to explain how or why the United States behaved and behaves in ways that baffle the rest of the world. I found myself saying something about “political will” and believed that if I were to answer that question in a way that felt remotely satisfying, I needed to spend some time on the ground observing how the “sausage” was made.

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References
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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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