GOVT 2283 Political Institutions Under Autocrats (undergraduate lecture)

Why do so many autocracies today have electoral systems, political parties, legislatures, and courts that mimic the institutions of a democracy? How do institutions help autocrats to maintain political order and what risks do they pose? This course will examine various models and modes of authoritarian rule, emphasizing the wide variation within the category of nondemocratic regimes. In particular, we will explore why some authoritarian regimes are more institutionalized than others and consider how legislatures, ruling parties, and other authoritarian institutions affect regime longevity, economic development, and the likelihood of violent conflict. We will conclude by studying cases of de-democratization and consider how democratic institutions can be used to undermine democracy.

GOVT 1101: Power and Politics: Russia (freshman writing seminar)

This course aims to help students gain insight into Russia ‘behind the headlines,’ with a particular focus on Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. Along the way, we examine such questions as: How do the legacies of communism impact Russian politics today? What makes Putin popular? And how stable is Russia’s current political regime? We will also consider what understandings of Russian politics dominate in public and academic discourse in the U.S. and how these ways of ‘knowing Russia’ shape US-Russian relations. Writing assignments range from policy briefings and blog posts to opinion pieces and analytical essays. Taught by a former editor of The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, this seminar focuses on the mechanics of engaging, accessible writing and the process that helps us reach our writing goals.

GOVT 4000 Russian Politics (undergraduate seminar)

This senior seminar examines the politics of Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union after communism's collapse. How do the legacies of communism impact Russian politics today? Why have the states that emerged from the Soviet Union followed such different political trajectories? What makes Putin popular? And how stable is Russia's current political regime? The course is designed for Government majors who wish to gain insight into Russia 'behind the headlines,' learn independent research skills, and gain (additional) exposure to such topics in comparative politics as democratic transition and authoritarian reversals, regime type, electoral and party politics, state-society relations, and the politics of economic reform.

GOVT 6594 Comparative Political Behavior (graduate seminar)

This seminar examines public opinion and political behavior from a comparative perspective using primarily the tools of quantitative social science. We will focus on the intellectual evolution of the field, its core theoretical arguments and controversies, as well as emerging research questions. The course proceeds thematically. Topics will include political culture and value change, information processing and opinion formation, both conventional and unconventional forms of political participation, representation, and voter decision-making. Important methodological issues in the study of public opinion and political behavior are addressed in the context of these substantive questions.

GOVT 6353 Comparative Politics Field Seminar (graduate seminar)

This course surveys the major topics in comparative politics and is intended for Ph.D. students.  Its purpose is to introduce the main theoretical and conceptual building blocks of the sub-field. We will focus on the intellectual evolution of the field, the dominant debates and controversies, and the variety of approaches to research within comparative politics. The course develops a shared language and set of references that will prove useful to you throughout your professional career. It proceeds thematically.  Each week we discuss a subset of the pertinent scholarly literature, usually focusing on a major theme or theoretical controversy.  Key methodological issues in the study of comparative politics are addressed in the context of these substantive and theoretical works, as well as in the written assignments for the class. 

GOVT 6053 Comparative Methods in International and Comparative Politics (graduate seminar)

This seminar is designed to introduce doctoral students to the study of politics through the procedures of science. It will familiarize students with methodological challenges encountered in research, such as concept formation, theory development and testing, case selection, variable operationalization and measurement, and descriptive and causal inference. Students will learn to assess research designs and causal claims as both consumers and producers of research. The material covered in this course (along with material from Government 6353) prepares students to take the comparative politics A exam. Another goal of the course is to prepare students to conduct original research for their A paper and dissertation. Students, therefore, will apply concepts and techniques to their own research questions as the semester progresses.