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Task Forces
The APSA task forces seek to expand the public presence of political science by putting the best of political science research and knowledge at the service of critical issues that have major public policy implications, and by sharing with broader society what political scientists know about important trends and issues in areas of public concern. Presided over, and on topics chosen by, each APSA President, APSA task forces develop reports and recommendations that are then made available to APSA members and the public. Find completed task force reports here.


APSA Presidential Task Force on Engaged Methodological Pluralism

Former APSA President Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier appointed a Task Force on Engaged Methodological Pluralism led by Dino P. Christenson and Valeria Sinclair Chapman. The 2021 Task Force examines on the state of methodology in political science where pluralism is the focus. Methodology impacts every research project undertaken. Questions surrounding epistemology and the choice of methodology are foundational topics taught in graduate school. The discipline is at a juncture in terms of debates around epistemology, quantitative and qualitative methods. The pluralistic nature of the discipline is a distinct advantage that the Task Force highlights. Not all of our social science, or even political science, colleagues share this view. We are seeing other disciplines fracture further—to the point of exclusion of other lines of inquiry—in response to the ever-widening reach of artificial intelligence and computational social science. For example, in the call for papers for Interpretivist Methods in the Digital Age: Methodology and Epistemology in the Social Sciences, the organizers state that “ profound epistemological debates have shaken the social sciences in the last decades … These debates provoked various disciplinary reactions, such as reinforcing the divide between qualitative and quantitative sociologies, a narrative turn in anthropology, a linguistic turn in history and the humanities, as well as a social turn in linguistics and the consolidation of Interpretivism as a specific methodological approach in political science and international relations.” Similarly, the Politics and Computational Social Science as well as Political Networks communities recognize different dimensions of this challenge “ The data and methodologies available to social scientists have exploded with the emergence of archives of digital data collection, large scale online experimentation, and innovative uses of simulation. The analysis of these data requires more complex methodological approaches and greater computational complexity than the approaches that have dominated the study of politics for the last 50 years.”  The Task Force and the Oxford Handbook directly address and discuss these challenges for methodologists across the spectrum.  More generally, the Task Force, 2021 Annual Meeting, and resulting publication of the Oxford Handbook of Engaged Methodological Pluralism are a way to bring the discipline together, to celebrate the heterogeneity of approaches, and to advance topics of diversity and inclusion, which are intertwined with the methods used. The Task Force is unique in looking at both methodology and epistemology, consideration of new data, and assessment of diversity, equity and inclusion that intersects with our methods.

Task Force Members and Associate Editors of the Oxford Handbook:

  • David Darmofal, University of South Carolina
  • John Gerring, University of Texas at Austin
  • Aarie Glas, Northern Illinois University
  • Matthew Hitt, Colorado State University
  • Aya Kachi, University of Basel
  • Heather Ondercin, Appalachian State University
  • Jessica Seodirgo, Georgetown University and University of Amsterdam
  • Lisa Wedeen, University of Chicago


APSA Presidential Task Force on Systemic Inequality in the Discipline

Former APSA President Paula D. McClain appointed a Task Force on Examining Issues and Mechanisms of Systemic Inequality in the Discipline. There are many issues of concern for marginalized members of our discipline, such as racial and ethnic minority scholars, women of all races and ethnicities, LGBTQ scholars. This task force addressed questions of how systemic systems of inequality that have manifest over time in the discipline affect the career trajectories and experiences within the broad contours of the discipline of scholars pushed to margins of the discipline. The goals for the task force were to examine the systemic inequalities that marginalized scholars within our community experience and to propose recommendations for ameliorating them, particularly for APSA and for departments of political science across the country. Read more about the task force.


APSA Presidential Task Force on New Partnerships
Former APSA President Rogers Smith appointed a Task Force on New Partnerships to propose new initiatives in the areas of research, teaching, and civic engagement. Higher education in America today is embattled on many fronts, and the discipline of political science is often singled out for criticism. The roots of these challenges are deep and broad and cannot be addressed by APSA alone. The Task Force on New Partnerships, with members drawn from a variety of higher education institutions across the country, seeks to identified ways APSA can form, stimulate, and aid new partnerships—nationally, regionally, and locally—that can strengthen the contributions of our profession to public discourse and make them more visible. It particularly seeks to enhance APSA aid to scholars at non-R1 institutions. A report detailing the Task Force’s aims and activities can be found in the October 2020 issue of PS: Political Science and Politics and via this link.

APSA Presidential Task Force on Women’s Advancement in the Profession

Former APSA President Kathleen Thelen appointed a Task Force on Women's Advancement in the Profession to understand career path differences between women and men in the profession of Political Science and the factors shaping women’s advancement. Despite increasing gender parity in PhD programs, women are more likely than men are to take part time and temporary teaching positions or non-academic jobs upon graduation. Women who pursue careers in research universities still face lower chances of getting tenure than their male counterparts. Women of color have issues all their own around critical mass, mentorship, and the marginalization of their research interests. The aim is not to valorize a single career path, but to understand how and why they differ by gender and/or race. The task force identified best practices and then proposed recommendations for APSA, disciplinary practices, and departmental and university policies. The task force's report is available here.


APSA Presidential Task Force on Research Conflicts of Interest and Human Subjects Research

Former APSA Past President David Lake appointed two ad hoc committees as part of his presidential Task Force, one focusing on financial conflicts of interest and the other on ethics in human subjects research. The ad hoc Conflict of Interest committee will develop policy for consideration by the APSA Governing Council concerning financial conflicts of interest in political science research, teaching, and other practices. The ad hoc Committee on Human Subjects reviewed and proposed new language for the APSA Guide to Professional Ethics, Rights, and Freedoms. The object was to identify broad principles of ethics relating to research on human subjects that can guide individual scholars in the design and practice of their research, inform institutional review boards about current standards and practices in Political Science research, and form the basis for Association standards in areas of broad-based agreement. The Task Force on Human Subjects Research's Principles and Guidance can be found here.


Task Force on Coronavirus 

The APSA Task Force on the Coronavirus, appointed by President Paula McClain on the recommendation of the APSA Council, worked through the summer of 2020 to identify implications of the coronavirus pandemic for our profession, institutions, and professional organizations, emphasizing actions our members, institutions, and organizations could effectively take to avoid harm, ameliorate negative effects, and learn from the experience. The Task Force was comprised of the following members: Christina Greer, Fordham University, co-chair; Virginia Sapiro, Boston University, co-chair; Eileen Hunt Botting, Notre Dame University; Frank Baumgartner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, University of Nebraska, Omaha; Neil Chaturvedi, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Nick Clark, Susquehanna University; Patrick Egan, New York University; Keesha Middlemass, Howard University; Mark Peterson, University of California, Los Angeles; Tressa Tabares, American Rivers College; Rachel Torres, University of Iowa

The Task Force produced the following statements:

  • A Statement on Federal and State Support for Institutions of Higher Education.  The complete statement can be viewed here.
  • A Statement to APSA Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus Statement of Concern to Academic Institutions on the Protection of Basic Civil and Human Rights during the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. The complete statement can be viewed here.
  • A Statement and Recommendations on Teaching during the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. The complete statement can be viewed here.
  • A Statement and Recommendations on Professional Career and Personnel Matters. The complete statement can be viewed here.

Committee Members:

  • Christina Greer, Fordham University, co-chair
  • Virginia Sapiro, Boston University, co-chairs
  • Eileen Hunt Botting, Notre Dame University
  • Frank Baumgartner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, University of Nebraska, Omaha
  • Neil Chaturvedi, California State; Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • Nick Clark, Susquehanna University
  • Patrick Egan, New York University
  • Keesha Middlemass, Howard University
  • Mark Peterson, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Tressa Tabares, American Rivers College
  • Rachel Torres, University of Iowa