Course Description: The study of political institutions dominates the field of comparative politics. In this course, we will examine both the validity and foundations of the study of political institutions, as well as look in-depth at the institutions of modern government. This course is a core requirement for the comparative politics concentration. It also provides foundational concepts and methods of analysis necessary for the regional and elective comparative politics courses.
Moreover, this class is a useful elective course for concentrations in American politics and International Relations. American political institutions are used as a basis for understanding the functioning of institutions in other countries. Accordingly, the students of American politics can learn about American institutions and the effects of those institutions that are not visible outside of a comparative perspective. In international relations, the domestic politics of the world’s governments are crucial to understanding how they behave in the international arena. This course, therefore, provides a strong foundation for analyzing the behavior and motivations of governments.
Specifically, we will engage in the discourse on the diversity and causal effects of the institutions of democracy across the world. These include executives, legislatures, bureaucracies, courts, electoral rules, and party systems. The methods of analysis are diverse; we examine cross-national statistical research, case studies, formal models, and more. Students also learn the broad concepts of institutions and institutional analysis that can be applied across the wide variety of democracies and autocracies alike.
Democracy is most often associated with the institution of elections. We will follow global elections as part of the course, both to understand the institutional dynamics within the voting countries, as well as the political situations that interact with those dynamics.
SPE 485: Computer Applications for Social Science Research (Fall 2014) with more updates.
Course Description: This course provides hands-on practice with computer applications for quantitative data analysis. There will be step-by-step instructions on how to put research inquiry into actual statistical programming. We will use the two most popular statistical software programs – Stata and R. Both Stata and R run on publicly available packages and user-written scripts. They offer flexible environments that allow users to draw statistical inferences based on the understanding of matrix algebra.
In particular, we will cover a few techniques that can be very useful for writing a quantitative research paper. The areas of focus include 1) preparing machine-readable datasets, 2) reporting regression outcomes, 3) understanding interaction effects through graphics, 4) drawing statistical inferences using simulation, and 5) imputing missing data. For interactive learning, students are highly encouraged to bring their own working datasets to the in-class discussion and to get assistance in any of these five topic areas.
In addition to working on data analysis techniques, this class is designed to help students learn and use LaTex. LaTex is a typesetting system allowing students to produce scientific and technical documentation. Students are recommended to work on a sample LaTex template (a *.tex file) that can serve their specific purpose (e.g. writing a formal theory paper, report on a short assignment, or presentation slides).
Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness (Samples of Course Evaluation)
POLI 320: Comparative Politics (Fall 2017, Fall 2018) with more updates
This course is designed to help students develop their critical perspectives in the field of Comparative Politics, with an emphasis on political regimes and formal institutions. However, not limited to this specific scope, the course will also draw upon the diversity of how political systems operate around the world (e.g. covering the relevant topics such as political economy, development, identities, and religions). With the equally in-depth exploration of the corresponding theories, this course also highlights the application of those perspectives to the relevant country cases. This combined effort will proceed with the review of core theories followed by analyzing the related survey of country cases using comparative tools. Students in this class will also have an opportunity to develop their original research project through a careful case selection and a solid understanding of the political context of the areas under study. The intent of this course is to provide a succinct survey of the leading comparative topics, their relevant theories, and well thought-out application through case examples.
This course is designed to introduce students to the logic of research design and the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods of political science to investigate political issues. Over the course of this term, we will learn how to think like political scientists while developing various skills required by the discipline: how to choose which method to employ, how to undertake original research (complete with data collection and analysis), and how to present your findings.
This course is designed to introduce students to the skills for interpreting, conducting, presenting, and analyzing political science quantitative research. Over the course of the term, you will learn how to think like social scientists while developing various data analytic skills required by the discipline: how to design quantitative research, how to undertake it (in completing with data collection and analysis), and how to present your findings to colleagues. The goal at the end of this class is to help you understand and conduct “quantitative” political research that will be useful in both academic and professional settings.
Sample Student Group Projects:
This course is designed to introduce the theoretical frameworks on the causes of global economic and political relations. To do so, we take a political economy approach that grounds policy choices in the competitive environments of domestic politics and decision-making processes. With this microlens to examining political behavior, the course examines how the micro tools provide leverage in understanding global affairs, especially the context of the empirical word over the past two hundred years.
The substance of the course materials is prepared in three basic structures. We will begin with key assumptions and conditions of economic political geography. The following section will develop into the micro-level conditions, mechanisms, and their shortfalls, which influence political and economic outcomes. We will then use those primary assumptions and micro-level arrangements to make sense of the changes in the global political economy over the past two hundred years.
This course will cover the periods from the end of the Napoleonic wars through industrialization, the development of globalization and the Atlantic economy, and the breakdown in globalization, and cooperation, during the interwar year, as well as the revival of globalization during the Bretton Woods period, the transition post-Bretton Woods, and the current era of global financial crises and responses to those crises.
This course aims to cover a wide range of topics in the field of international relations. In a large picture, we will follow the traditional disciplinary approach by focusing on the political relationship between sovereign nation-states in the modern world. We will additionally include coverage of major historical developments in international relations beginning with World War I. Students in this class will be ushered to a range of theoretical approaches for analyzing internal politics in an anarchical world political system. To this end, we will be looking at the three mainstream perspectives, including realism, liberalism, and constructivism, along with the critical theory such as Marxism. These views will be comparatively applied to current and past issues in foreign policy, including recurrence of war, economics and trade, human rights, population management, and environmental degradation. We will also discuss developments in the area of global governance in recent years, and consider whether or not interstate anarchy remains the most useful model for understanding international political events. Additionally, students will analyze, through writing assignments, a series of global issues to apply those mainstream perspectives on international politics.
Department Annual Review of Undergraduate Teaching