In political science there are often controversial concepts and topics which need to be addressed. It is almost unavoidable. The teachers who avoid controversy at all cost soon gain a reputation for bland or un-engaging classes. There are also some teachers who try to create controversy just for the sake of entertainment and I find those classes to be lacking benefits also. There is no magic formula. Each teacher must make his or her own decision about the types of balance they need in their classes. And each group of students has different dynamics and maturity levels, and therefore need different structure in the classroom.
I have grappled with the right balance throughout the semester. Often I feel like I risk sacrificing student engagement if I handle controversial subjects poorly.
I have come to believe that what is most important however is creating an environent where students are courteous, open, and thoughtful. I have tried to create this environment a number of different ways throughout the semester. I think that in the end if I am successful any kind of idea can be discussed in a safe environment.