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.

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

Honours and Regular students must take one of the following experiential learning course:

  • PSCI 494 Current Issues in Political Science
  • PSCI 495 Research Apprenticeship in Political Science
      • 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
    • Students participate in a civic engagement experience and reflect on how concepts in political science help to illuminate it. 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.
    • Civic engagement involves voluntary participation in a community activity that contributes to a public concern. 
  • PSCI 497 A and PSCI 497 B - Study Abroad Experience
    • Learn how you can Study Abroad
    • In the semester that you plan to be abroad enroll in PSCI 497A Study Abroad (0.25 credit). This course will be available online and will require you to complete three, short reflection essays. When you return to UW in the following semester enroll in PSCI 497B Study Abroad (0.25 credit) to 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 won’t be required to meet the experiential pathway and will be granted an exemption (but you’ll need to complete this petition). You’ll still need 16 PSCI courses (including a political theory or research methods course) and two 400-level seminar courses to complete the major.