Introduction to American Politics: Professors and Partisanship

Author: Emily Farris (Texas Christian University).
This spring, I opened my Introduction to American Politics and asked my students to attend the first day after having read the syllabus, Dr. Seth Masket’s piece in Pacific Standard, “The Crisis in Political Science Education” and had completed their Introduction to American Politics.
Dr. Masket writes
“Professors are increasingly realizing that their commitments to non-partisan education conflict with their commitments to inclusion.”
He explains how this conflict has intensified recently with Trump and other Republicans using racism (and I’d even add sexism!) in their governing philosophy.
Civility Policy
I used Dr. Masket’s piece to frame the discussion around my civility policy. The policy evolved from an informal conversation to a written policy in the syllabus over the years. This was partly in response to the crisis mentioned in the piece. My syllabus describes the classroom as a place where different ideas can be explored with respect to promote learning and growth. I explain that each person has different experiences and backgrounds, and that I expect us all to be respectful as we explore ideas. According to my university’s guidelines I declare that no ad hominem attacks or epithets will be allowed in the class.
Instructors who wish to teach Introduction to American Politics can find it difficult to do so in today’s political climate, especially with Trump in office. Instructors should think about how to make their classroom more inclusive.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you create your syllabus
What can I do for all students to feel welcome in the classroom
How can I create a civil dialogue and allow for debate on a wide range issues?
These are some discussion questions to help you review a civility approach or policy in your classroom.
What are some common guidelines that we all want to discuss?
What expectations do I have as your professor?

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