Goals for Political Science

By American Political Science Association | Go to book overview

Preface

THIS study was started four years ago and has been worked on intensively since the autumn of 1948. Shortly after the end of World War II, the Executive Council of the American Political Science Association decided that a study of the teaching of political science in institutions of higher education ought to be made, and, accordingly, a committee was appointed for that purpose. It was assumed that this committee would take a national inventory on the state of political science as did similar committees of the Association in 1914 and 1930. Preliminary reports were made and published in the American Political Science Review, but the comprehensive study actually got under way in 1948.

To inform itself fully about the state of political science in the United States, the committee, in cooperation with the United States Office of Education, circulated a fifteen-page questionnaire to the 286 institutions of higher education which that year had reported to the Office of Education that they had awarded degrees with majors in political science. The questionnaire included sections on general information, the beginning course, instructional methods, the undergraduate departmental major, the teaching of political science and its relation to high school social science education, integrated social science courses, and graduate instruction and professional training. A total of 252 institutions or 88.1 per cent responded--an unusually high proportion for this type of inquiry.

The committee obtained from these questionnaires much basic information, an idea of areas that should be staked out for further investigation, and an indication of the need for still different types of information. Consequently, a "letter of inquiry" was sent to the 112 institutions that offered graduate degrees in political science. These letters requested the opinions of the

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