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Analysing and teaching theoretical debates using a set of articles in Point-Counter Point-Rejoinder format

One of the things I find most challenging to teach is the skill necessary to map out scholarly debates. I find that most professors offer a list of articles, book chapters and books that (in theory) map the field as they see it. However, I find that very few if any provide any guidance on to how to understand an entire field or sub-field of scholarship through scholarly exchanges and conversations. In this blog post I show how we can teach theoretical debates using a set of articles in Point-Counter Point-Rejoinder format (PCR).

Reading highlighting scribbling

I strongly believe we ought to teach our students how to map out scholarly debates. It’s on us, rather than on them, to show them the road map: who says what in the field, who says the opposite thing (or a counter point), and is the balance of evidence supporting Theory A or Theory B or neither?

To be perfectly frank, I DO think that within a course, faculty owe it to students to draw the map of the literature rather than asking of the student to make sense of all scholarly work and create the map themselves. HOWEVER, I strongly believe that for comprehensive/qualifying/preliminary exams, students SHOULD be able to map out the debates themselves.

Beyond the corruption theory Point-Counterpoint-Rejoinder set of articles I show above, I found another set that discusses environmental justice.

Now, so far I have only provided two sets of articles in PCR format. I draw from one of these sets to showcase how to write the argumentation in a Point-Counterpoint-Rejoinder kind of way.

I also believe it is important to teach our students how to write critiques that are firm but courteous. They should also be able to highlight their own contributions without destroying the scholarship of people who came before them.

Hopefully this blog post will be of use to those of you who want to teach strategies to map out the literature using scholarly exchanges as examples.

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Posted in academia.

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