The objective of liberal education is, surely, to help students develop the skills, capacities, perceptions, and imagination to enable them to enrich and enhance not only their own lives, but the life of the community as well. Educating for citizenship, thus broadly defined, is an endeavor shared by political scientists with colleagues in related fields, in the arts, the sciences, and the humanities. Citizenship as subject matter, however, has fallen within our purview. Put differently, as educators all of us consider, in a diffuse sort of way, the relationship between our teaching on the one hand and the polity on the other. Those of us who are political scientists must consciously concern ourselves with matters that fall under the rubric of citizenship. Notwithstanding the high purposes of the Academy as a whole, citizenship has for all practical purposes been defined in terms of the political, and political science has been charged with providing an academic experience that should inform and inspire the citizen experience. A tension, therefore, may be said to exist between political science's competency to teach about and its more general responsibility to educate for citizenship. The writers here address the question of how we can best teach about citizenship, ply our trade as it were, in ways that educate for citizenship.
First, it would be useful to remind ourselves how we typically teach about citizenship. That some subfields of the discipline lend themselves more readily than others to the enterprise is not at issue. Whatever the emphasis in a wide variety of courses, our students should leave our tutelages with an understanding of citizenship as a status, a cluster of activities, a concept, and a value. More tellingly, most of us would like to think that we expose our students to frames of reference and modes of analysis that encourage them to make and act upon informed, critical, and sophisticated judgments about political phenomena and public affairs.