Introduction to Comparative Politics: Sources of Order and Disorder in the World (undergraduate lecture)
This course introduces students to comparative politics: the study of politics and political life in the world outside the United States. Drawing on a mix of classic works and contemporary scholarship, we investigate a series of questions: How do states form? What makes a nation? What are the causes and consequences of democracy? Why are some states authoritarian? How do authoritarian rulers stay in power? What leads people to engage in peaceful protest? What are the causes of violence and civil war?
Middle East Exceptionalism (undergraduate seminar)
Scholars and policymakers alike describe states in the Middle East and North Africa as exceptional in many ways: exceptionally violent, exceptionally authoritarian, and exceptionally religious, for instance. Recent work in the social sciences has found that states in the region are more likely than states elsewhere to experience violence, abuse human rights, and repress political opposition, and less likely to democratize, grant rights to women or develop modern economies. Yet findings are sometimes contradictory or unstable, and explanations for these patterns have proven difficult to pin down. Some have posited explanations that rest on cultural particularity, while others have argued that these patterns are not in fact characteristic of the region. In this seminar, we consider whether or not the Middle East is exceptional, and in what ways. What traits distinguish this region from other regions? What kinds of explanations may account for the outcomes we observe there?
Qualitative Field Research (graduate seminar)
This seminar has two primary objectives: to consider the use and importance of qualitative methods in political science, and to provide students with hands-on training in qualitative field research. In consultation with the instructor, each participant develops a research plan to carry out a local project during the semester. Participants spend 2-4 hours a week in their chosen field site. The course and the field project are designed to provide students with the basic techniques for collecting, interpreting, and analyzing qualitative data, with an emphasis on the core ethnographic techniques of participant observation and in-depth interviewing.