A Debate: Political Science is Lapsing into Irrelevance

Friday, May 31, 2019 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

This is an invitation-only event. Watch live at https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/live

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a recurring debate about political science's relevance to real-world problems and the role it should play in addressing them. Some argue that a major impediment to the field's policy relevance is its growing obsession with method—particularly, formal modeling and other advanced forms of quantitative and statistical analysis—to the detriment of substance. Privileging this type of rigor over relevance, they maintain, has resulted in increasingly esoteric and impenetrable scholarship that is ill-suited for translation into policy. Others challenge this perspective, asserting that such arguments are outdated and do not reflect broader definitions both of rigor and relevance, and new opportunities for scholars to engage with policymakers and the public.

What is the current state of the academic-policy gap and why should we care? What progress has been made in bridging this gap? What more can be done?

This debate will be moderated by Carnegie Corporation of New York's Stephen Del Rosso.

Michael Desch is professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame and author of The Cult of the Irrelevant: The Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security.

Henry Farrell is professor of political science at The George Washington University, blogger, and an editor of the Washington Post-affiliated Monkey Cage.


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