Political Science and Wikipedia

Educational Partnerships Manager,  Jami Mathewson
Educational Partnerships Manager, Jami Mathewson

Back in April, Wiki Ed launched a partnership with the Midwest Political Science Association. Together, we set our sights on improving Wikipedia’s political science coverage.

As we approach an election year, it’s hard to overstate the importance of Wikipedia as a resource for information about issues and candidates. We heard from many instructors in the political science field that their Wikipedia assignments encourage students to identify a local issue and share neutral, fact-based information about that issue through Wikipedia. Students develop a deeper level of understanding of a local political issue, and communities have access to the information they need to make informed decisions.

MPSA’s members are experts in their discipline, which is why we’re engaging them in our programs. They identify important content gaps in Wikipedia articles about global and local government, political analysis and theory, public law, international relations, and local civic issues. They find the gaps, and students in related courses improve or create those articles.

Wiki Ed has a long history with political science topics. Our 2010 pilot program targeted public policy instructors and courses. Since then, we’ve supported more than 100 courses within the discipline. Student editors have contributed fantastic overviews of theoretical topics, such as the article on Constitutional patriotism written for a course at Pomona College. Students at Texas State University researched and expanded the article on Street-level bureaucracy, doubling the number of reliable sources used for the article. These are two courses among the many that have made an impact on the public’s knowledge and awareness of political science.

Yet, there’s still tremendous work to be done to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of political science information.

Students can make a difference. But they’ll also see the difference in their own learning. By sharing their work with an audience, they practice critical communications skills as they share their knowledge with a real audience. They apply their knowledge in a new context, develop real research and writing skills, and apply information literacy through a careful curation of sources.

We’re still looking to support more political science courses for the current term. If you’re interested in developing a syllabus that lets students apply their learning while expanding public knowledge of the political sciences, please contact Samantha Erickson at samantha@wikiedu.org.


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