Improving Open-Source Information on African Politics, One Student at a Time

Published: Jan 12, 2022
Contributor: Kristin Michelitch

Martha Wilfahrt

License: CC BY NC ND 4.0 license – Allows redistribution but no additions or revisions to content. Forbids commercial use.

Our 2022 PS: Political Science & Politics article, “Improving Open-Source Information on African Politics, One Student at a Time,” discusses Wikipedia page creation as a fruitful assignment for undergraduate political science courses on the Global South. Based on our experience teaching African politics, we argue that assigning students to write a Wikipedia entry achieves twin objectives.

First, it engages students in helping to close the significant gaps in Wikipedia’s coverage of politics in the Global South versus the Global North. Undergraduate students are highly motivated to address these disparities and are uniquely positioned to do so because of their access to gated scholarly resources, supervision by subject experts, and ability to “translate” academic sources into widely accessible language. Second, the assignment is an excellent pedagogical tool whether teaching in person or online. Pedagogical benefits include (1) sharpening digital literacy skills, (2) honing research and citation skills, (3) learning and demystifying technical-editing skills on a web platform, (4) developing competency in writing neutrally, and (5) gaining confidence as producers of public-facing output. The assignment is uniquely positioned to achieve both objectives because it is so engaging to undergraduates.

Below you can read the article, view the article’s online appendix, and listen to the  “Leading Lines: A Podcast on Educational Technology” episode.

This resource is part of a larger set of supplemental resources associated with the April 2022 PS: Politics & Political Science Teaching Symposia, “Wikipedia & Political Science: Addressing Systemic Biases in the Classroom.” APSA Educate thanks Cambridge University Press and the PS Editors  for their help organizing this collaboration and for making these articles freely available through August 2022.


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