If we compare the present situation to that of a couple of decades ago there is no doubt that Italian political science has significantly grown: the number of its affiliates has increased, the scope of its research interests has become wider and more diversified, its academic presence vis-à-vis other disciplines (such as constitutional law, sociology, history) has become more assured and its professional association (the SISP) has also significantly consolidated its structure.
At the same time an honest assessment of the present situation suggests that a lot more has yet to be done. In many, if not most Italian universities, the presence of political science courses in the academic curricula at the undergraduate level is still far from satisfactory, graduate schools continue to be weak in financial, academic and organisational resources, true political science departments do not exist in most universities (political scientists are typically confused among representatives of a rather mixed bag of other disciplines) and the degree of internationalisation of the profession must be improved. These and other critical points must be publicly faced and discussed if we want to move ahead in the right direction.
Italian Political Science will try to be a small, but hopefully flexible and attentive, instrument for contributing to promote an open debate on these topics.
We deliberately decided that the beginning should be modest – a simple electronic bulletin; this will make it easier, after an initial experimentation, to steer the course of IPS in the direction that best fits the needs of our profession. Its transformation into something different will depend on the interest it will stimulate and on the reactions coming from the members of the discipline.
As it appears already from the topics covered in the first issue, IPS will pay attention to the problems related to the professional training of political scientists, to the state of our organisation and of the academic institutions within which we work, to the resources available for research and to the features of the people involved in this job. IPS will first of all document the present state of affairs with its strengths and weaknesses, and will not refrain from expressing evaluations too. In any case we will try to pay special attention to all the harbingers of innovation wherever they make themselves apparent or not. Since the discussion of these problems must not only involve the Italian academic institutions, we decided to publish this electronic journal in English.
Thus we hope it will not only reach the Italian members of the profession but also the significant community of Italianists abroad. Their comments, contributions, suggestions will be particularly appreciated.
We hope that in this way IPS will contribute toward strengthening the linkages between the Italian academic scene and the external world.
Maurizio Cotta, former IPS Editor.