Experiential learning courses

What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning refers to an approach to teaching that involves engaging learners "in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities."

The goal of the Political Science undergraduate program is to equip students with the knowledge, skills and values they need to engage in critical thinking and analysis of the social and political world, as well as to be good citizens. This means ensuring students understand the key concepts, theories and methods of political science, but also preparing them to connect what they learn in the classroom to the world around them.

Through the study of power, politics and government, Political Science students gain these skills as well as the values of personal responsibility, civic engagement, integrity, open-mindedness and continuous learning that the department views to be essential for both good citizenship and career success.

Honours and Regular students must take one of the following experiential learning courses to fulfill their PSCI degree requirements.

Co-op students are exempt from having to complete an experiential learning course if they have completed two co-op work terms, but they are not excluded from taking these courses.

PSCI 494 Current Issues in Political Science

Examine a current issue in political science by attending talks, monitoring the media, and doing independent research. With topics being self-selected and work being self-guided, students in this course will demonstrate independent learning and gain the experience-based skills needed to investigate how a concept/issue in political science plays out in contemporary politics, policy and governance.

PSCI 495 Research Apprenticeship in Political Science

In this course students will work as research assistants with a political science professor at UW. The research assistant position itself involves 40 hours of unpaid experience aimed at honing research and writing skills.

Research assistant opportunities will be posted in the department for the following semester. Each position will be a 40-hour unpaid experience designed to hone research and writing skills. While enrolled in PSCI 498B, you will complete three reflection essays and successfully complete the project outlined in your research assistant contract with a faculty member.

Check back here for available opportunities

PSCI 496 Civic Engagement in Political Science

Learn how politics is integrated in our daily lives by engaging with our community through a 40-hour placement as a volunteer or a paid employee (you must be enrolled in this course in the same semester as your placement). Civic engagement involves voluntary participation in a community activity that contributes to a public concern. Students may also participate in a seminar in which they complete guided reflections, share their experiences with other students, and complete a final project related to their civic engagement experience.

PSCI 497 Study Abroad Experience

In the semester that you plan to be abroad enroll in PSCI 497 Study Abroad (0.5 credit). This course will be available online and will require you to complete three, short reflection essays produce a final project that integrates your coursework on contemporary politics, policy and governance with your study abroad experience.

Please note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we can offer only the co-op experiential learning pathway in Fall 2020, Winter 2021 and Spring 2021. If you are graduating in Spring or Fall 2021 you will not be required to meet the experiential pathway and will be granted an exemption (but you’ll need to complete this petition). You will still need 16 PSCI courses (including a political theory or research methods course) and two 400-level seminar courses to complete the major.