Experiential Learning Opportunities

The Department of Political Science strongly encourages students to get involved in programs that emphasize “hands on” learning experiences. The department offers several courses that provide opportunities for experiential learning and encourages students to explore other experiential education options at Rice and beyond, such as internships, practicums, community programming, civic engagement, and more.

Experiential Learning in the Department of Political Science

POLI 260: Advocating for Ideas to Change the World
Advocating for change is an experiential learning course that teaches students how to engage in issue advocacy as a method of social change. Students work in teams with faculty mentors to develop and implement an advocacy plan for a particular cause or policy of interest. Students are required to go “outside the classroom” and talk with local policy leaders and decision makers to promote their plan and complete their class project.

POLI 337: Introduction to Public Policy
In this course, students have the opportunity to study and evaluate public policy as practiced across and within different levels and types of governments. Students work in teams to evaluate policies and proposals currently before local, state and national governments. Each research team prepares a policy brief and makes a class presentation on the policy or proposed policy they studied before the end of the semester.

POLI 349: Urban Lab
The Urban Lab at Rice University is an interdisciplinary program that combines coursework on comparative urban and regional politics and policy with field research, allowing students to apply classroom theory to real-life dynamics on the ground. Since 2010, the urban lab has featured site visits to Amman, Jordan; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Dubai, UAE; Istanbul, Turkey; and Shanghai, China. The Department of Political Science has partnered with the Baker Institute Center for the Middle East, the Chao Center for Asian Studies, and the Center for Civic Leadership to offer these experiential opportunities. You can view a video featuring experiences of the 2019 cohort and their visit to Amman, Jordan, here.

POLI 420: Election Systems
Election Systems is a multidisciplinary course team-taught by faculty in Political Science, Computer Science, and Psychology for students in all three majors. Students examine how elections work to enhance participation, to accurately measure the will of the electorate, and to be sufficiently rigorous to convince all parties that the results are legitimate. They also study the design and evaluation of election technologies, ranging from voter registration through the polling booth and vote tabulation. Students learn much of this through group projects developed around elections occurring during the semester in which the course is taught and that require students to go out into the community to research those elections.

POLI 441: Governing the Environmental Commons
Global warming? Deforestation? Over fishing? Lack of clean water? These are all significant problems caused by humans. How can we work to solve these problems? Students in this class tackle one or more common problems in the local Houston area and work with a local partner to design evidence-based solutions. Class projects use various research tools to help inform local partners about strategies they might adopt to solve fundamental environmental problems.

Many other courses include varying degrees of experiential learning as well.

Other Options for Experiential Learning about Politics and Political Science

Center for Civic Leadership

Rice School of Social Sciences Law and Judicial Practicum

American University Washington Semester Program

The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas New Politics Forum

NEW Leadership Texas Program for undergraduate women at universities across Texas

To learn about other politics-related opportunities (internships, conferences, events, volunteering) as they arise throughout the year, please join our closed Facebook page by emailing your request to the Political Science Program Administrator, Norma Lara (norma.lara@rice.edu).