This course is designed to introduce the students to the study of comparative politics. The first week of the course will familiarize the students with the type of questions that comparative political scientists tackle and the methodological tools that they employ. This week will also concentrate on issues such as concept formation and theory development. The rest of the course will be structured around key research areas in the field of comparative politics such as state formation, nationalism, constitutional structure of states, origins and persistence of political regimes, emergence of political parties and voting, religion and politics, political culture and political violence.
Research Methods and Design
This course covers the basics of research design and methods. The first part of the course is devoted to developing a research question, constructing testable theories, understanding the advantages of quantitative and qualitative methods, and concept formation. The second part of the course focuses on specific research methods (historical analysis, statistical methods, field research, archival research, and experiments) and their relative strengths and weaknesses. The final section of the course addresses the ways in which scholars combine different methods to study political phenomena.
This course provides a theoretical and empirical overview of different types of political violence including interstate wars, civil wars, violence within wars and occupations, mass violence targeting groups (such as genocide and ethnic cleansing), revolutions, riots, and terrorism. More specifically, the course is designed to explore three broad questions that relate to the study of political violence: I. What are the conceptual differences between types of political violence that we typically think of as distinct? To what extent are the definitional distinctions between interstate and civil wars, or revolutions, civil wars and terrorism useful for our understanding of these phenomena? II. What are the potential explanations for different types of political violence? Which explanations are more convincing in light of what we know about current and historical cases of political violence? III. What are the methodological challenges that we face when studying political violence? How can we tackle these challenges?
Religion and Politics
This course is designed to introduce the students to the study of the relationship between religion and politics. The course will be structured around key research areas in the field such as the conditions under which societies or the institutions that govern them become secularized, the emergence and persistence of the religious-secular divide as a salient political cleavage, the relationship between regime type and religion, the potential implications of religious doctrines for public policy and economic outcomes, the causes of religious violence, as well as the historical and contemporary role of religion in the international sphere.