By: Dr. Helaine Blumenthal, Wiki Education

For the past several years, MPSA has been partnering with Wiki Education to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of topics related to Political Science. In an era where misinformation and disinformation are rife, this initiative has taken on new meaning as well as a sense of urgency. Wiki Education supports faculty at institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada who assign their students to contribute to Wikipedia as part of their coursework. The results of this partnership are truly astounding. Thus far, Wiki Education has worked with 164 courses in the field of Political Science. Across those courses, more than 3,700 students have collectively added more than 3.75 million words to Wikipedia, worked on over 4,200 different entries, and created 531 entirely new articles in a range of topics related to Political Science. You can help us broaden this important work by running a Wikipedia assignment in Winter/Spring 2022.

Students have covered subjects ranging from the local to the global and from the practical to the theoretical. While Wikipedia’s breadth and depth are staggering, it still consists of glaring content gaps, and no where is this more evident than in historically underrepresented areas, such as women, minorities, and non-Western peoples and cultures. In a course on African Politics, students created new articles on Voting rights in Nigeria as well as Child soldiers in Uganda. They expanded the entries on the Constitution of Ghana as well as Human rights in Ethiopia. Students at the University of Calgary tackled these important equity gaps by focusing on issues closer to home. They created the entry on Settler colonialism in Canada, describing the important history of the displacement and mistreatment of Canada’s indigenous populations by European settlers. They also expanded the article Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, highlighting the high rates of violence committed against indigenous women.

Women in politics are often covered less frequently and less robustly than their male counterparts in the media, and as a result, they are less well-represented on Wikipedia. Students at the University of Nebraska, however, attempted to remedy this by either expanding or creating new articles on women politicians. They significantly expanded the article on Megan Hunt, the first openly LGBTQ+ person to be elected to the Nebraska legislature in 2018. They created the article for Claudette White, Chief Judge of the Quechan and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Courts from 2006-2020 and 2018-2020, respectively. They also created the entry for the 2017 Lincoln Nebraska Women’s March, demonstrating how the Wikipedia assignment can help students to connect to their local identities.

While many students choose to tackle one of Wikipedia’s equity gaps, others focus on improving more traditional content. Students in a course on Open Democracy added substantially to the article on Participatory democracy, a form of democracy where citizens play a more critical role in governance than representative democracy. They also created the article on Oral democracy, a fairly new idea that describes political institutions wherein citizens can engage with the political establishment through talk and communication. Students in a course on International Politics expanded the article on Complex interdependence, the idea that states are growing increasingly connected through economic relationships. They also updated the article on Hong Kong-United States relations with newer and more relevant sources.

If you’re a faculty member at an institution of higher education in the U.S. or Canada and would like your students to participate in this important work, please sign up at The deadline to apply for Wiki Education’s free support in Spring 2022 is November 21, 2021. Despite all of the amazing work that these students have done, there is still so much to do!


About the Author

Helaine Blumenthal
Senior Program Manager, Wikipedia Student Program

As Senior Program Manager, Wikipedia Student Program, Helaine develops relationships with instructors to deepen our support for program activities. Helaine is responsible for mentoring the instructors who teach Wikipedia classroom assignments. She ensures that instructors are well-supported throughout their Wikipedia assignment and helps them navigate Wiki Education’s robust set of resources. Helaine has a Ph.D. in history and brings extensive experience in higher education and academia to Wiki Education.

She has a passion for languages and is an avid (and experimental) chef, with “strong” feelings about food — though her daughters, Nina and Maxine, don’t give her much time for either.