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POL 200: Analyzing Politics: Intro

The Conversation

Throughout the semester, we will explore the idea of research as conversation.  Research is not a matter of finding a certain number of sources to plug into a paper.  It is about identifying, accessing, and exploring the conversation occurring around any given topic. Conversations are happening everywhere – in town hall forums, at conferences, on blogs, in newspapers and magazines, in government agencies, through primary sources and government documents, public opinion data, and in academic journals and books.  You will learn how to explore as many facets of a conversation as possible in order for you to contribute meaningfully to it. That’s the goal of research.   

About This Lab

This lab, developed originally by Julie Gilbert, will give you an in-depth experience delving into how political scientists find, use, create, and share information. By delving into tools of the trade, you will gain a deeper understanding that will help you with all of your political science courses - and beyond. 

Photo courtesy of the National Archives

On Conversation

"As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors, neither of an inquiry about ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is a conversation which goes on both in public and within each of ourselves. . . .

Education, properly speaking, is an initiation into the skill and partnership of this conversation in which we learn to recognize the voices, to distinguish the proper occassions of utterance, and in which we acquire the intellectual and moral habits appropriate to conversation. And it is this conversation which, in the end, gives place and character to every human activity and utterance."

Michael Oakeshott. The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind: An Essay. London: Bowes & Bowes, 1959, 11.


Barbara Fister's picture
Barbara Fister
I'm happy to meet to discuss your research in my office, over coffee, or wherever it's convenient for you.

Office: Library Lower Level (facing Beck Hall)
phone: x7553
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