Students of Political Science can share their tips for encouraging participation

Author: Dr. Emily Stacey of Rose State College

Although I don’t claim to be the Pied Piper of Political Science, I am quite popular at my small community college campus.
Because I make politics accessible to my students and dare I say, even sexy (topical) to them, I am also a popular student in the community beyond my majors. I am passionate about my field, and want it to be shared with my students for more than a few weeks or months.
These are some of the ideas I have used in my department to get students involved with politics.
Tip 1: Start a book club or discussion group on campus.
As an adjunct, a colleague gave me the Political Science Book Club. It’s still my third-year full professorship.
I chose a book in Political Science/Theory that I believe my students should be familiar with before they enter a 4-year university. Over the course of the semester, we read through the selected title. The club meets on Fridays at noon. With some assistance from departmental funds, we can provide lunch and a learning experience.
Students from many fields have joined the book club, including Microbiology. They engaged in intense political discussions. It’s great fun!
Tip 2 – Make sure students get to know each other.
If your institution has a degree plan that groups students together in a cohort that takes classes together (like most institutions), you can take the initiative to get students together and introduce them to each other.
Each fall semester I ask my amazing division academic advisor for a list of newly-declared majors to add on to my list. I invite all my majors to a meet and greet type of event. My faculty partners often join me for coffee and cookies.
This allows us to get to know the faculty and students we will be working with over the next two years.
Tip 3: Create an extensive distribution list of majors.
Keep your students informed! Each semester, I update my Political Science majors distribution lists. I ensure that I inform them about events, job and internship opportunities, and any other information that a Political Science student might need. This fosters the mentor-cohort relationship.
Tip 4 – Establish a mentoring program in your department.
My colleagues and me split the list of new majors at each academic year’s beginning to provide basic guidance on their Political Science education. If we can identify students who are in the same area of expertise, we will direct them to that faculty member for more personalized guidance. We meet with students at least once a semester to check in and offer assistance.
Tip 5 – Engage with students.
We are always in demand as a professor of Political Science. I am available to students on campus. This helps me make a name in the field and for our department.
I make sure that I am visible at campus mall events and participate in election coverage on Facebook Live. This makes it easier for students to connect with you and your product: The Political Science field.
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