Title page for ETD etd-05152009-153307

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Erskine, Brian Michael
Author's Email Address berskine@vt.edu
URN etd-05152009-153307
Title Postmodernist Pedagogy’s Effect on Doctoral Level Political Theory Instruction and Curriculum
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Hult, Karen M. Committee Chair
Brians, Craig Leonard Committee Member
Walcott, Charles E. Committee Member
  • political theory
  • political philosophy
  • curriculum
  • pedagogy
  • postmodernism
  • classics
  • doctoral program
  • political science
Date of Defense 2009-05-04
Availability unrestricted
Among the 123 political science programs listed by the American Political Science Association that grant Ph.D.s in political science, only seven require every student to complete some sort of political theory or philosophy course. Eighty-one offer students the opportunity to select political theory or philosophy as a concentration. Most surprising, 39 programs advertise no courses in political theory or philosophy at all.

Political philosophy, at the doctoral level, is being treated as an optional option. Given these findings about the lack of political philosophy and theory at the doctoral level, the study of all things theoretical or philosophical seems to be overshadowed by other subfields of research. The not so subliminal message being sent by this sort of phenomenon is that some subfields of political science have a higher priority than others.

In addition to identifying the number of political science programs that require coursework in political theory, this thesis explores the shift of the political theory offered away from traditional philosophical foundations and toward a postmodern pedagogical approach. This type of pedagogy can have the secondary effect of devaluing traditional notions of teaching and learning in favor of collaborative learning and learner centered teaching. Following the movement to reform the educational system in France after the student riots of 1968, narratives of morality were replaced by the idea that such social constructs ought to be abandoned for a focus on individualism and intertexuality.

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