Goals for Political Science

By American Political Science Association | Go to book overview

Chapter I. Perspective at
Mid-Century

PERIODIC audits are the order of the day. Continuous evaluation is a must. It is necessary for members of a profession that deals with matters as important as the United Nations, the mounting cost of government, and the ability of large cities to govern themselves, to take stock periodically of their total effectiveness and how it might be improved. This the American Political Science Association has not attempted to do comprehensively since 1930. On grounds of general principle, therefore, it is time that an inquiry such as the present one should be undertaken. But in addition to the chronological reason, there are special factors that make the need especially acute right now.

Many of the major social problems that the public clamors to have solved involve a knowledge of subject matter that political scientists charactertistically deal with, either in whole or in part --questions such as the international control of atomic energy, stabilization policies of government in time of threatened depression or runaway inflation, and what can be done to clear the blighted areas of large city slums. On the part of the public generally, one detects a vague and inarticulate feeling that the social sciences ought to do more than has been done to speed solutions that will master some of these problems, just as the physical scientists and engineers were able to accelerate the work that made possible the splitting of the atom.

From the standpoint of the profession itself, problems have arisen since the end of World War II--problems such as heavy enrollments, large teaching loads, and inadequate library facilities that allow too little time for refreshing the store of energy, inspiration, and experience that make effective teaching and

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