New to teaching: How do I teach a broad subject to non-majors?
September 8, 2010 1:52 AM   Subscribe

Teaching a beginners course for a beginning instructor? Help me come up with a few ideas/guidelines for a intro tutorial for non-political science grad students.

Hello MeFis: I've been given a great opportunity to teach a introduction to political science tutorial /two hours a week/semi-weekly basis to a group of incoming international masters students in the coming months. The majority of these students are non-poli-sci majors and are required to take this course (but with no credits). My supervisor, who is constantly busy and micromanaging large projects all over the world has given me free reign over the scope of the tutorial, which is nice i theory, but it's leaving me in somewhat of an epistemological quandary.

Here's where I'm confused: I need some ideas on what might be a realistic scope for such an undertaking. Generally, I would like to work on topical issues in international politics (structure vs. agency, institutional theories, trends of globalization,etc.) and allowing for the discussion of major theories (liberalism, realism, Marxism, etc.). But I'm really not sure where to begin because I'm sure the incoming students are coming from a diverse background of majors. They will have required courses to attend which actually give out grades so I doubt that my syllabus will/should be heavy on required readings.

Any advice/experience on how I could begin to conceptualize this project would be extremely helpful and appreciated. Thanks!
posted by wallawallasweet to Education (1 answer total)
When you read this site you can see how easily elaborate discussions develop about almost any topic. In the end, all things connect, anything can turn out to be relevant to anything else, although some things come up more often than others. The easiest strategy would be to introduce something that would be on people's minds anyway, such as the ongoing problem of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, high debt levels of most governments, the war on terror or the war in Afghanistan, the war on drugs, the Tea party, same sex marriage, and so forth, and just get people to say what they think about it and what insight they may have as students of political science; then other students can respond, whether to agree or disagree, and the discussion can be very far-reaching. It could be something like a live version of metafilter. Why not.
posted by grizzled at 6:12 AM on September 8, 2010

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