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 21: Teaching controversial topics

David Malet

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


It is never good when a student stands up and starts screaming that you are trying to brainwash the class – or is it? The student was objecting to a video depicting poor labor conditions in factories in developing nations, the first result pulled from a Google Videos search for ‘sweatshops’. On the one hand, this student soon found himself involved in frank debate with classmates about government intervention in markets, including the provenance of the public university in which this exchange was taking place. On the other hand, being challenged by his peers did not calm the situation, and the student created a disruptive atmosphere by attempting to shout over the instructor with accusations that the object of the class was socialist indoctrination. How about when the impending end of the United States military’s ban on gay service members leads one student in uniform to declare that if another man made a pass at him he would ‘kick his teeth in’? This statement produced laughter from several classmates, but these caused an offended gay student to demand an apology.

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