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About Introduction to Political Science

Introduction to Political Science introduces the broad scope of the political science discipline in a holistic manner via logically connected conceptual building blocks. Rather than discussing theory, comparative politics, and international relations in a purely siloed manner, Introduction to Political Science incorporates major themes from the various subfields of the discipline in a more inclusive fashion. The text focuses on actors, beginning with an examination of individual political actors and then moving on to discuss the actions and interactions of political groups, institutions, and states and international relations. Introduction to Political Science focuses on how and why political realities unfold, from the beliefs and behaviors of individuals to the policies and practices of states.

Introduction to Political Science is designed so that students will see themselves as a part of the world of politics and political science, emphasizing the role that politics and government play in students’ lives and how students can further contribute to civil society. Rather than focusing exclusively on the United States, text chapters discuss politics and government within the United States as a part of a discussion of larger concepts that apply around the world. The text uses a diverse range of international examples to illustrate these concepts. It seeks to include a variety of perspectives and scholarship, including both widely accepted foundational ideas and prominent views from underrepresented, oppressed, and dissenting voices. The Changing Political Landscape features discuss topics such as the growing numbers of women in legislatures and on high courts around the world, changing family structures, and United Nations efforts to involve young people in the fight against racism. In addition to providing thorough explorations of traditional Western perspectives, Introduction to Political Science introduces students to feminism, indigenism, conservative populism, fusionism, and critical race and gender theory. Diversity concerns are inherent in much of the discussion, as the ways in which majorities and minorities interact are central to political decision-making and public policy.

Because not all students who take an introduction to political science course will go on to major in political science, Introduction to Political Science makes connections to broad concepts that transcend course boundaries and emphasizes how the skills students build when learning about political science apply in other fields, in the workforce, and throughout life.

Pedagogical Foundation

Learning Outcomes

Every module begins with a set of clear and concise learning outcomes that can guide instructors and students and that they can use to measure understanding. After completing the module, students should be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning outcomes.

Key Features

  • The Changing Political Landscape highlights and illustrates how changing demographics affect politics and political science.
  • Where Can I Engage? provides specific ideas and connections to organizations involved in civic engagement.
  • What Can I Do? outlines political science skills and “soft skills” connected to chapter material that are in demand in today’s job market, both within and outside the field of government and politics.
  • Show Me the Data presents and dissects data visualizations to help students develop their data interpretation skills as well as their substantive knowledge of politics.
  • Connecting Courses links chapter content and concepts to other courses in the general curriculum as well as to common electives.
  • Meet a Professional introduces students to a diverse variety of professionals working in fields related to politics and political science.

Section Summaries

End-of-chapter summaries, broken down by chapter sections, distill the information in each chapter.

Key Terms

Key terms appear in bold and are followed by a definition in context. Key terms are also listed, with definitions, at the end of the chapter.

Review Questions

Multiple-choice review questions at the end of each chapter provide opportunities for students to apply and test the information they learn.

Suggested Reading

These curated suggestions offer students classic and contemporary resources for further learning.

About the Authors

The authors wish to express their deep gratitude to Terri Wise for her skillful editing and gracious shepherding of this manuscript.

Senior Contributing Authors

A person wearing a suit and tie smiles for a portrait.
Figure 1

Mark Carl Rom, Georgetown University

Dr. Mark Carl Rom is an associate professor of government and public policy at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Department of Government. His recent research has focused on assessing student participation, improving grading accuracy, reducing grading bias, and improving data visualizations. Previously, Rom has explored critiques and conversations within the realm of political science through symposia on academic conferences, ideology in the classroom, and ideology within the discipline. He continues to fuel his commitment to educational equity by serving on the AP Higher Education Advisory Committee, the executive board of the Political Science Education section (ASPA), and the editorial board of the Journal of Political Science Education. Prior to joining McCourt, Rom served as a legislative assistant to the Honorable John Paul Hammerschmidt of the US House of Representatives, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, a senior evaluator at the US General Accounting Office, and a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation, “The Thrift Tragedy: Are Politicians and Bureaucrats to Blame?,” was the cowinner of the 1993 Harold Lasswell Award from the American Political Science Association for best dissertation in the public policy field. Rom received his BA from the University of Arkansas and his MA and PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992.

A person wearing glasses and a turtleneck sweater poses for a portrait.
Figure 2

Masaki Hidaka, American University

Masaki Hidaka has a master of public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she wrote her thesis on media coverage of gaming ventures on Native American tribal lands. She completed her PhD at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation examined the relationship between issue publics and the Internet. She is currently a professorial lecturer at the School of Public Affairs at the American University in Washington, DC, but has taught in numerous institutions, including the National University of Singapore, University College London, and Syracuse University in London. She also worked as a press aide for former San Francisco mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. (and she definitely left her heart in San Francisco).

A person in a gray top smiles for a portrait.
Figure 3

Rachel Bzostek Walker, Collin College

A native of Fort Worth, Rachel Bzostek Walker is the associate dean of academic affairs at Collin College Technical Campus in Allen, Texas. She earned her PhD in political science from Louisiana State University and has a master’s in Israeli politics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her dissertation focused on the preemptive or preventive use of force, and she continues to research in this area as well as exploring the use of active learning in the classroom. She taught full-time for over 15 years at colleges and universities in Missouri, California, and Texas, teaching a wide variety of classes on subjects including international relations, American foreign policy, and Middle Eastern politics, as well as introductory classes in American and Texas government.

Contributing Authors

Emilia B. Carvalho, Lone Star College (Chapter 16)

Rebecca Eissler, San Francisco State University (Chapter 9)

Terri Susan Fine, University of Central Florida (Chapter 7)

Cassandra Khatri, Lone Star College (Chapter 14)

Timothy Lim, California State University, Los Angeles (General Contributor)

Brenda Norton, Angelo State University (Chapter 11)

Robert Postic, University of Findlay (Chapter 10)

Joseph Prud’homme, Washington College (Chapters 3 and 13)

Shyam Krishnan Sriram, Gonzaga University (Chapter 7)

Victoria Williams, Alvernia University (Chapter 15)


Danny M. Adkinson, Oklahoma State University

Maneesh Arora, Wellesley College

Brittany Arsiniega, Furman University

R. R. Asaadi, Portland State University

Brian Blanchard, Collin College

Shawna M. Brandle, City University of New York

Mark D. Brewer, University of Maine

Sharon Deubreau, Rhodes State College

Brian Dille, Mesa Community College

Kyle Estes, Occidental College

Terri Susan Fine, University of Central Florida

Leah Graham, University of North Alabama

Margaret Hanson, Arizona State University

Bill Joseph, Wellesley College

Jared Larson, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Daniella Mascarenhas, Xavier University of Louisiana

Jeffrey Moyer, visiting lecturer, Northeastern University

Carolyn Myers, Southwestern Illinois College

Todd R. Patterson, Northampton Community College

Robert Postic, University of Findlay

Jessica Roisen, St. Ambrose University

Jacob Shively, University of West Florida

Shyam Krishnan Sriram, Gonzaga University

Joseph Stewart, Clemson University

Harvey Strum, Russell Sage College

Rosalinda Valenzuela, Collin College

Francesca Vassallo, University of Southern Maine

Answers to Questions in the Book

The end-of-chapter Review Questions are intended for homework assignments or classroom discussion; thus, student-facing answers are not provided. The Instructor Manual includes answers to the Review Questions, questions within activities and for classroom discussion, which instructors may use with students at their discretion. The answers to these questions are typically open-ended and depend upon how the activities are used; for these questions, standard responses are not available.

Additional Resources

Student and Instructor Resources

We’ve compiled additional resources for both students and instructors, including Getting Started Guides, an instructor’s manual, a test bank, and image slides. Instructor resources require a verified instructor account, which you can apply for when you log in or create your account on Take advantage of these resources to supplement your OpenStax book.

Comprehensive instructor’s manual. Each component of the instructor’s manual is designed to provide maximum guidance for delivering the content in an interesting and dynamic manner. For each chapter, the instructor’s manual includes

  • a chapter overview
  • ideas for classroom activities with criteria for student success
  • links to data resources and informational video clips
  • discussion/recap questions

Authored by Jeffrey Moyer, visiting lecturer, Northeastern University.

Test bank. The 400 multiple choice and true/false questions in our test bank are correlated to the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, allowing instructors to customize tests to support a variety of course objectives. The test bank is available in Word format. Authored by Shyam Krishnan Sriram, Gonzaga University.

PowerPoint lecture slides. Using images, key terms, and examples, the PowerPoint slides outline the main points of each chapter, providing a starting place for instructors to build their lectures. Authored by Jeffrey Moyer, visiting lecturer, Northeastern University.

Community Hubs

OpenStax partners with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) to offer Community Hubs on OER Commons-a platform for instructors to share community-created resources that support OpenStax books, free of charge. Through our Community Hubs, instructors can upload their own materials or download resources to use in their own courses, including additional ancillaries, teaching material, multimedia, and relevant course content. We encourage instructors to join the hubs for the subjects most relevant to your teaching and research as an opportunity both to enrich your courses and to engage with other faculty. To reach the Community Hubs, visit

Technology Partners

As allies in making high-quality learning materials accessible, our technology partners offer optional low-cost tools that are integrated with OpenStax books. To access the technology options for your text, visit your book page on

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