Political Science Now

Political Science and the Public Sphere Today

Political Science and the Public Sphere Today

Rogers M. Smith

The potential of political science to contribute to debates over public issues has long been hindered by tensions in the discipline’s goals of achieving scientific rigor while also serving America’s democracy. Those tensions have been exacerbated by recent trends in American higher education working to separate research and teaching activities and to rely more on external donors to finance both. Collectively these trends suggest that political science faces growing pressures to steer away from unpopular topics in both research and teaching, and to abandon the traditional teacher/scholar model of academic careers. It is advisable for the discipline both to seek more actively to promote engagement between different forms of political science scholarship in order to achieve cumulative knowledge that is pertinent to important political issues, and to preserve and strengthen its commitments to effective teaching about politics.

Political Science and the Public Sphere Today, by Rogers M. Smith, appears in Perspectives on Politics Volume 13 / Issue 2 / June 2015, pp 366–376.