Political science courses develop in light of racial justice reckonings

Waco Hall's political science classes begin incorporating more diverse perspectives. Ava Sanborn | Photographer

By Jessica Rajkumar | Reporter

Baylor’s undergraduate political science department has introduced new methods in its lessons and perspectives in its curriculum to teach students about the impact of African American authors and their influence on the political climate.

With the rise of movements and protests across the country, many people have become politically aware to keep track of what is important and to stay informed and active on what is happening in our country.

The increased publicity of progressive movements, such as Black Lives Matter, has raised some serious questions that challenge people’s perspectives on the racial injustices happening every day in the U.S.

These changes have also brought up important issues in politics and have started conversations on changes in policies that impact everyone. Grand Prairie senior Kennedy Kinnard explained how minorities on Baylor’s campus have often felt misrepresented or not heard in their academic endeavors.

“I’ve never had a Black professor,” Kinnard said. “A lot of our classes are taught from a white man’s perspective, and so whenever you want to insert your perspective and your story and your experiences, you often have to sit and think ‘If I say this, will someone be upset with what I’m saying? And if someone’s upset by what I’m saying, are they going to affect my grade? Are going to view me differently?’ You have a lot of pressure just trying to express yourself in basic ways.”

In order to make sure that its students are educated on the issues surrounding Black history, Baylor’s Department of Political Science has taken into account what is going on around us, and is including more African American authors in its curriculum for students to analyze and discuss. Director of Political Science Undergraduate Studies Dr. Dave Bridge explained the importance of knowing what is relevant in politics and the atmosphere to stay current and educated.

Bridge emphasized the importance of the integration of diverse thinkers in Baylor’s political science classes and their relationship with the founding of this country.

“We’re trying to show the history of Black lives and their relation to the constitution,” Bridge said.

Bridge said he has observed how Baylor’s student body is open to discuss these issues and is willing to encourage others to speak up and share their differences. He has acknowledged this and has shared with his department on how utilizing these different perspectives not only will help with their academic careers but their future endeavors as well.

By integrating new concepts and perspectives into the political science department, Bridge believes Baylor’s campus will become involved in a “critical thinking movement,” in which every idea and belief is challenged and discussed. Bridge said it is crucial to have these conversations as a campus so that we can stay progressive and make sure to consider everyone’s concerns.

Baylor’s Political Science Department has taken extra efforts, such as integrating small discussion groups on Zoom for voter registration, to encourage its students to be politically active. Students getting involved with political movements and changing politics have the opportunity to open up on their perspectives and on what is going on in our country.

Katy sophomore Kelley Carr, who is currently enrolled in Bridge’s PSC 2302 American Constitutional Development class, highlighted the importance of how getting involved and staying active is the key to change. Carr said the updated curriculum “has brought more awareness to the change in the political atmosphere on Baylor’s campus.”

This integration of different ideas and thinkers shows Baylor’s increased effort to evolve with the times. Bridge said “we are not going to stop having those hard conversations.”