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Empirical Methods of Research (fall 2022, fall 2020, fall 2018)

Required ​for all first-year political science Ph.D. students. This course begins with a discussion about the nature of inquiry, the relationship between theory and the empirical world, complex causal structures, and the tensions between ontology and methodology in the social sciences. The second part examines several popular methods (e.g, ethnography, comparative historical analysis, process tracing, large-N analysis, experiments) through applied examples. The third part focuses on research design: how to identify an interesting and important question, how to design and execute sound research strategies to generate convincing results, and how to present them effectively.

Dissertation Overview (fall 2022, spring 2023)

A year-long course for third year PhD students in political science. The focus is on research design. The main objective is to help students complete their dissertation proposals by the end of the third year.  


Autocracy and Democracy (spring 2021, spring 2020)

The course invites students to think critically about political regimes and the forces undergirding their transformation and durability. In exploring regime types and transitions, we reflect on fundamental questions about politics. What is political power? How do we know who has power? How do the powerful hold onto power and how do they lose it? How does political history progress? Will liberal democracy be the end of history? 

Authoritarian Politics (spring 2019)

Graduate seminar in comparative politics. This course surveys important questions driving research in the fields of regimes, regime change, and authoritarian politics. students will learn to identify interesting research questions and execute sound research designs.



Introduction to Comparative Politics (spring 2022, fall 2021, spring 2021)  ​​

This course introduces students to important questions, theories, and concepts in comparative politics, as well as basic tools of comparative political analysis. It explores competing theoretical explanations for important phenomena in world politics, such as economic development, democratization, democratic breakdown, social revolution, populism and nationalism, redistribution, and political violence. It also explores debates about the role of political institutions, states, civil society, and identity in shaping political outcomes. These theoretical debates are examined through an analysis of cases from across the globe, including Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. It also examines the United States in comparative perspective.  


Political Economy of Development (fall 2021)  

A reading and discussion based capstone seminar​ on prominent theories of economic development and its social and political consequences, including seven themes: 1) global inequality and its causes; 2) market theories and their detractors; 3) state theories and their critics; 4) late development and national catchup; 5) development as human and environmental exploitation; 6) development and social change; and 7) development and democracy. 

Government and Politics in Contemporary China (spring 2022, fall 2017, fall 2016)

This course introduces students to contemporary Chinese politics and uses China as a case to test various general theories in the social sciences. In the first part, we survey modern Chinese political development from late Qing through the 1980s. In particular, we will study important political change through theories of revolutions and social movements. In the second part, we explore various themes in contemporary politics: economic development, environmental protection, inequality, nationalism, religion, corruption, technology, etc. We will examine how China confirms and defies existing social science theories. Students will obtain knowledge in social science concepts and theories, substantive knowledge in Chinese politics, and academic writing skills.


Democratic Erosion (fall 2020, spring 2020)

Recent years have witnessed a deluge of commentary warning of imminent threats to democracy in the US, the West, and the world. Is American democracy really under threat? What about democracy in the West, or the world, more generally? If democracy is indeed under threat, what can we do about it? And if it’s not under threat, why are so many of us so worried that it is?


Authoritarian Politics (spring 2018, fall 2017)

This course ​surveys the politics of authoritarian regimes. In the first part, we will learn important concepts, theories, and paradigms in the study of regimes. In the second part, we travel virtually into some important non-democratic regions of the world. In the third part, we examine the nuts and bolts of the authoritarian political machine: who governs in non-democratic systems and how? Throughout the semester, students are also taught research design and execution in the social sciences. Their final project is a research paper using data analysis and case studies to examine a question of their choice pertaining to authoritarian politics.


Business and Political Economy in Modern China (fall 2018, spring 2017)

This course ​introduces students to the political economy of China's development since the 1970s. Each week we examine one aspect of the Chinese economy: agriculture, manufacturing, export, infrastructure, finance, social welfare, technology, sustainability, etc. Each topic consists of two sessions. In the first session, we study the issue, relevant theories, and concrete policy changes in the reform era. In the second session, we analyze a published case study of a firm (private and public, Chinese and foreign) that has done or is doing business in China: the challenges it has faced and the lessons it has learned. 

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