Table of Contents

Handbook on Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations

Handbook on Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations

Edited by John Ishiyama, William J. Miller and Eszter Simon

With a focus on providing concrete teaching strategies for scholars, the Handbook on Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations blends both theory and practice in an accessible and clear manner. In an effort to help faculty excel as classroom teachers, the expert contributors offer representation from various types of institutions located throughout the world. Split into three distinct parts, this book discusses curriculum and course design, teaching subject areas and in class teaching techniques.

Chapter 20: Teaching political theory

Matthew J. Moore

Subjects: education, teaching and learning, politics and public policy, international relations


Not everyone has an opinion about calculus, chemistry or even Congress, but everyone has an opinion about the purpose of human life, whether anyone has a right to rule over others (and why), and the proper distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation. Because your students will have opinions about those things, it will be possible to draw them into political theory, and their engagement will make the class fun, for them and for you. But first, you have to know how to draw them in, which is what this chapter focuses on. Because of the history of the discipline of political science, both the definition of political theory and the question of its role in political science are issues we need to address briefly before talking about teaching. What political theory consists of is the source of much debate in the profession. First we need to distinguish between what is often called formal political theory, which involves making mathematical models of political systems, and political theory (also commonly referred to as political philosophy), which concerns texts and arguments that make normative proposals about how government and society should be run.

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