Dennis M. Foster, Ph.D.                                                           

PO390 - Research Design for Political Science

An advanced, writing-intensive three-credit course in the International Studies curriculum. The completion of PO 390 by the conclusion of the second-class year is a prerequisite for the pursuit of Institute or IS Departmental Honors, and is strongly recommended as a preparatory course for SURI projects. In general, the course focuses on philosophies of and approaches to social science for the express purpose of facilitating cadets’ practical research objectives. As such, the two central goals of the course are (a) to introduce upper-division IS cadets to a broad range of methods traditionally used to design, conduct, and report professional political science research; and (b) to structure and oversee the self-application of these methods to individual cadets’ research questions. To these ends, the course will thoroughly address the intricacies of: framing research questions about politics; developing rigorous theories and hypotheses about politics; identifying and operationalizing reasonable measures to test hypothesized relationships; collecting and analyzing political data; and writing research reports that are acceptable by professional political scientific standards. Acquisition of these skills will be gauged by participation, examinations, and cadets’ individual research efforts during the progression of the course, culminating in the development and public presentation of a thorough research design on an approved topic of the cadet’s choosing.