Exploring Political Theory through Research and Practice

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What is a key emphasis of classical liberalism according to the text?

Which political theory stresses the importance of tradition and social order?

What is a central focus of feminist theory as discussed in the text?

Which approach challenges traditional political theory and existing power structures?

How can undergraduate research experiences contribute to students' engagement with political theory?

What is the systematic study of fundamental questions regarding the organization and governance of human societies called?

Where do undergraduate research experiences in political science, especially at minority-servicing institutions (MSIs), allow students to deepen their understanding of political theory?

What do Research Assistants (RAs) frequently do in the field of political science?

In addition to developing their critical thinking abilities, what skills do Research Assistants (RAs) typically sharpen through their work?

Which of the following is NOT mentioned as a political theory discussed in the text?


Exploring Political Theory through Research and Practice

Political theory, a core discipline within the field of political science, is the systematic study of fundamental questions regarding the organization and governance of human societies. To understand political theory more deeply, let's explore the intersection of theory and practice via research and the role of undergraduate researchers.

Research Assistants and Political Science

Undergraduate research experiences in political science, particularly at minority-servicing institutions (MSIs), offer students a unique opportunity to deepen their understanding of political theory while developing valuable skills. Collaborative research projects, like those at a minority-servicing institution lab, can lead to increased awareness of the nature of research, confidence in pursuing more advanced opportunities, and a better grasp of various political theories.

Research assistants (RAs) frequently work alongside faculty members, contributing to research projects and gaining hands-on experience across various topics, including international relations, comparative politics, and public policy. Through their work, RAs develop their social and professional skills, sharpen their critical thinking abilities, and gain a more nuanced understanding of political theory.

Political Theories and Key Concepts

Political theory encompasses a range of viewpoints and philosophies, such as liberalism, conservatism, Marxism, and feminism. These theories analyze and challenge fundamental questions regarding human nature, justice, and the role of government.

For instance, classical liberalism, championed by philosophers such as John Locke and Adam Smith, emphasizes the importance of individual rights, limited government, and free markets. On the other hand, conservatism, developed by philosophers like Edmund Burke, stresses the importance of tradition, social order, and the primacy of community.

Critical theories, such as Marxism and feminism, question the status quo and seek to challenge and transform existing power structures. For example, feminist theory critiques gender inequality and seeks to empower women, while Marxist theory analyzes the relationships between classes and the role of the working class in achieving social justice.

The Future of Political Theory

As political science evolves, so too does the field of political theory. New theories emerge, challenging traditional approaches and offering fresh perspectives on contemporary issues. Undergraduate research experiences, particularly those that engage students in collaborative, interdisciplinary projects, can help students navigate the complex landscape of political theory and prepare them to become innovative and informed citizens who can actively engage with the political world.


Political theory is a dynamic and constantly evolving field, offering students a wealth of knowledge and opportunities for growth. By engaging with research, particularly as a research assistant, students can deepen their understanding of political theory, develop valuable skills, and contribute to the ongoing evolution of the field. As we continue to explore the intersection of theory and practice, undergraduate researchers will play a crucial role in shaping the future of political science and political theory.


Delve into the world of political theory through the lens of research and practice, exploring fundamental questions about governance, human societies, and key political philosophies. Understand the role of undergraduate researchers in shaping the field and developing valuable skills for engaging with political issues.

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