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Task Force Reports

APSA task forces seek to expand the public presence of political science by sharing the best research and knowledge that address important issues in areas of public concern.

These reports are no longer being circulated in print. For any inquiries on purchasing remaining inventory, please contact Publishing Associate Nick Townsend.

Report on the 2017 APSA Survey on
Sexual Harassment at Annual Meetings (2018)

PS 51.1 Cover In light of concerns about sexual harassment within the political science profession, the APSA Professional Ethics, Rights, and Freedoms Committee surveyed the entire APSA membership between February and March 2017 to determine the extent and nature of perceived harassment experience at APSA Annual Meetings. The results were intended to complement the recent institution of the new APSA anti-harassment policy to find out what, if any, further courses of action might be warranted.

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Technological Innovation in Political Science (2017)

Tech Innovation Cover The American Political Science Association (APSA) Taskforce on Technological Innovation in Political Science conducted a series of meetings and conference calls to examine ways that APSA and its members can encourage technology innovations in teaching, research, and public outreach. The taskforce formed a set of subcommittees, and each group generated a number of ideas, which are briefly summarized in the following text. The taskforce also conducted a survey of APSA members regarding their technology use. Following these recommendations are longer subcommittee reports outlining the rationale for these recommendations.

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The Double Bind: The Politics of
Racial and Class Inequalities in the Americas (2016)

The Double Bind Cover Although political science has studied how rising income inequality affects political representation, the Task Force on Racial and Class Inequalities in the Americas focuses specifically on the causes and consequences of inequality in its various forms. The long-standing gaps in the life chances of whites and communities of color in the nations of the Americas have been largely unexplored. At the same time, in Latin America, which had long denied the existence of a relationship between race and ethnicity and class disparities, there has been an explosion in data-gathering on race and ethnicity and in particular on the relationship between race and inequality. Therefore, the task force members have explicitly sought to grapple with both the problem of rising socioeconomic inequality and the multifaceted racial gaps that exist throughout the Americas.
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Let's Be Heard! How to Better Communicate
Political Science's Public Value (2015)

Lets Be Heard Cover Political science is at a crossroads. The knowledge that it produces is more diverse and valuable than ever before—yet many audiences do not understand why or how political science is beneficial. Moreover, the rise of the internet has changed the kinds of information that people seek. For many scholars, the question has become “How do we make our knowledge accessible and relevant to others while still retaining our high standards of scholarship and teaching?

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Improving Public Perceptions of Political Science's Value (2014)

Improving Public Perceptions Cover This report to the APSA Council discusses how Political Science as a corporate entity engages in two principal tasks—the creation of knowledge and the dissemination of knowledge. Creation of knowledge is, at base, a product of the actions of individual scholars and small scholarly groups. And many of the ways in which political scientists currently communicate—through their teaching, publication in journals, and conference presentations – were developed in less competitive communicative eras. To remain relevant, we must adapt. But how?

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Negotiating Agreement in Politics (2013)

Negotiating Agreement Cover The breakdown of political negotiation within Congress today is puzzling in several important respects. The United States used to be viewed as a land of broad consensus and pragmatic politics in which sharp ideological differences were largely absent; yet, today, politics is dominated by intense party polarization and limited agreement among representatives on policy problems and solutions. Americans pride themselves on their community spirit, civic engagement, and dynamic society, yet we are handicapped by our national political institutions, which often-but not always-stifle the popular desire for policy innovation and political reforms. The separation of powers helps to explain why Congress has a difficult time taking action, but many countries that have severe institutional hurdles to easy majoritarian rule still produce political deals.

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Political Science, Electoral Rules, and Democratic Governance (2013)

Electoral Rules Cover Political scientists have contributed to the world of electoral systems as scientists and as engineers. Taking stock of recent scientific research, this report shows that context modifies the effects of electoral rules on political outcomes in specific and systematic ways. It explores how electoral rules shape party systems, the inclusion of women and minorities, the depth and nature of political competition, and patterns of redistribution and regulation. It considers institutional innovations that could promote political equality. Finally, the report describes the diverse ways that political scientists are producing an impact on the world by sharing and applying their knowledge of the consequences of electoral rules and global trends in reform.

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Democratic Imperatives: Innovations in Rights, Participation, and Economic Citizenship (2012)

Democratic Imperatives Cover The charge of the Task Force on Democracy, Economic Security, and Social Justice in a Volatile World is to rethink some of the familiar assumptions about democracy, economic security, and social justice in light of these worrisome trends. Its aim is to refresh and reinvigorate debates on the articulation between democracy, economic security, and social justice in developed and developing countries. In particular, the Task Force will assess recent policy innovations in three broad, related areas: basic income, participatory budgeting and planning, and rights-based models of welfare and development.

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Political Science in the 21st Century (2011)

Political Science 21st Century Cover This report examines the profession of political science to determine whether it is living up to its full potential as a scholarly discipline by enriching the discourse, broadening the understanding, and modeling the behavior reflective of vibrant democracy. Is political science positioned to embrace and incorporate the changing demographics, increasing multicultural diversity, and ever-growing disparities in the concentration of wealth present in many nation-states? Can political science do so within its research, teaching, and professional development?

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Interdisciplinarity: Its Role in a Discipline-Based Academy (2009)

Interdisciplinarity Cover This summary report of the APSA Task Force on Interdisciplinarity focuses on procedural aspects of interdisciplinary practices currently in use, including incentives, organizational structures, and techniques to educate students and scholars to work effectively in interdisciplinary approaches. The intent is to provide a guide to promising innovations that have worked well, rather than to judge which ones might be the best. Best practices are presented from a wide range of academic fields and institutions. The report is intended to be helpful to an equally wide range of academicians, including research and teachers themselves, and the directors of institutional structures that shape the research and teaching environment.

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U.S. Standing in the World: Causes, Consequences, and the Future (2009)

US Standing in the World Cover America’s global standing has become a central concern of U.S. leaders and citizens. U.S. leaders, regardless of party, pledge to “restore U.S. standing” as a central goal of America’s foreign policy agenda. Standing has been the subject of widespread public discussion and intellectual debate. Yet despite all this attention, three issues fundamental to standing have been relatively ignored:
  • What is standing and how has it varied?
  • What causes standing to rise and fall?
  • What impact does standing have on U.S. foreign policy?
This report of the Task Force on U.S. Standing in World Affairs answers these questions by synthesizing what we now know about U.S. standing and/or identifying what we need to know to understand better a topic of clear national and international importance.

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The Persistent Problem: Inequality, Difference, and the Challenge of Development (2008)

The Persistent Problem Cover This report, from the APSA Task Force on Difference, Inequality, and Developing Societies, highlights the complex, multidimensional nature of inequality in the era of globalization, and documents that despite the impressive strides by nations like China and India, absolute inequality between the richest and poorest countries is greater than ever before in history. This report’s central argument is that, under conditions of high inequality, elites—both international and within individual nations—may create socially sub-optimal institutions and policies, and they may resist changes that promote development but threaten their dominance.

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Taskforce on Political Violence and Terrorism (2007)

The objective of the APSA Task Force on Political Violence and Terrorism is to assess the contribution of political science to the understanding of how trends in civil violence affect domestic and international political order and to share findings with the public.

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Women's Advancement in Political Science (2005)

Women's Advancement Cover This report addresses broad problem of under-representation of women in the academic ranks of political scientists in the United States. Despite substantial gains at all academic ranks since the 1970s, women seem likely to remain below parity with men in the discipline for some time to come. It also describes next steps and actions for national and regional professional associations, institutions, departments, and senior faculty.

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American Democracy in an Age of Inequality (2004)

Age of Inequality Cover Equal political voice and democratically responsive government are widely cherished American ideals. Indeed, the United States is vigorously promoting democracy abroad. Yet, what is happening to democracy at home? Our country’s ideals of equal citizenship and responsive government may be under growing threat in an era of persistent and rising inequalities. Disparities of income, wealth, and access to opportunity are growing more sharply in the United States than in many other nations, and gaps between races and ethnic groups persist. This report describes how progress toward realizing American ideals of democracy may have stalled, and in some arenas reversed.

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Graduate Education in Political Science (2004)

Graduate Education Cover This report describes the basic principles, and their rationales, that all graduate programs could and should seek to embody, even if in widely differing forms, and the steps that departments and the APSA can undertake, and often need to undertake, to fulfill these principles in ways that fit their circumstances. It reviews a series of options for individual departments, institutions, and the APSA.

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Workplace and Family Issues Report (2004)

This report investigates the pressures and challenges facing those who attempt to have both a family and a career. While these challenges will affect all faculty members at some point in their careers—men and women, young and old—studies show that the burdens fall more squarely on some than on others, and women still pay the price to a greater extent than do men. It describes the numerous obstacles to making the academic workplace more family friendly, and the resources, coordination, and shift in academic culture that may be required to overcome these.

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