Spring 2018 Course Offerings
84-265 Political Science Research Methods
Professor Daniel Silverman
84-275 Comparative Politics
Professor Ignacio Arana
This course is an introduction to the subfield of Political Science called Comparative Politics. Scholars in this subfield - comparativists - use comparative methods to study the political systems of countries around the world, trying to understand how they differ and why. In this course, we aim to learn about how political systems differ, discuss alternative explanations of why they differ and explore the different observed outcomes of political variations. To do so, in the first part of the course we will examine the core concepts and main theories of the subfield. In the second part, we will examine some of the main themes studied in Comparative Politics, such as the differences between democracy and non-democracies, presidentialism versus parliamentarism, developed countries versus developing countries, types of electoral rules, party systems, social cleavages and political cultures. The discussion will focus mainly on the Americas and Europe, but not exclusively. Students will be required to apply the comparative methods discussed in the course to explore the history, political systems, and current events of different countries.
84-312 / 84-612 Gender and Development in Sub-Saharan African
Mini 3 (Section A3)
The purpose of this course is to continue a discussion on the debates, structures, and agents that inform international development in Africa but through the varied perspectives and experiences of African women. Their perspectives offer critical interventions into development discourses and practices traditionally viewed through masculine and Western lenses. In studying development from the African woman's perspective, one is better able to engage both the successes and failures of this formal process we call "development" in Africa. By examining African women and their relationship to this process, we will also see the alternative frames of feminisms and knowledges that emerge from these realities. The core questions driving this course are: (i) what are the various development ideologies and processes that have shaped contemporary Africa? (ii) How have African women adopted, rejected, and/or creolized these ideologies and processes for the purposes of changing their cultural, political, and economic conditions? The course readings come predominantly from African women, although there are texts from non-African women and men that generally serve to highlight the larger discourses taking place around a particular topic.
84-315 / 84-615 Contemporary Debates in Human Rights
Professor Takiyah Harper-Shipman
What are human rights? Are human rights universal or provincial? This class will survey the origins, debates, and application of human rights around the world. As a class, we will explore the history of the term and the evolution of human rights as a set of formal and informal institutions derived from the global aspirations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the quotidian interactions between the powerful and ostensibly powerless. By the end of this course, you should come away with both a renewed and wavering belief in the idea of human rights.
84-319 / 84-619 U.S. Foreign Policy and Interventions in World Affairs
Professor Dov Levin
This course will discuss the various ways in which the United States, like other countries around the world, tries to influence developments within other states by intervening in their domestic affairs. Interventions of various kinds, utilizing numerous tools, are frequently undertaken by the United States with major effects on the intervened country and subsequent U.S. foreign policy. The goal of this course is to provide a better understanding of such interventions in general and a more complete picture of this frequently neglected aspect of American foreign policy in particular. Accordingly this course will focus on explaining, among other things, why interventions of various types are done, their effectiveness in achieving their goals and their effects on the target and (occasionally) on the U.S.. It will also discuss in depth various historical cases of American interventions ranging from the early 20th century to the present, widening the depth and breadth of student knowledge on American foreign policy. The course will cover both military and non-military forms of interventions including (for example): Military interventions in civil wars, FIRCs/regime change operations (both the overt and covert types), humanitarian interventions, partisan electoral interventions, economic sanctions, external help in state-building, and drone warfare.
84-322 / 84-622 Nonviolent Conflict and Revolution
Professor John Chin
Conflict and revolution are usually associated with armed struggle and violence. But over the course of the last century, nonviolent conflict has become an increasingly prominent source of institutional change and political revolution around the world, from Gandhi's salt march to Filipino "people power" to the post-Soviet "color revolutions" to the Arab Spring. What are the causes, strategies, tactics, dynamics, and consequences of nonviolent conflict, and how do these differ from violent or armed conflict? When and how do unarmed "people power" campaigns topple repressive authoritarian regimes? This course addresses these questions and in the process engages contending theories of power, revolution, and insurgency. The first half of the course introduces students to key concepts, theories, and historical patterns of nonviolent conflict. In the second half of the course, the class analyzes case studies of landmark nonviolent campaigns, both successful and failed. By the end, students will be expected to write an original 10 page analysis of a particular historical nonviolent conflict, or an intelligence estimate that assesses the prospects for the onset or outcome of nonviolent conflict in a contemporary country.
84-363 / 84-663 Comparative Legal Systems
Professor Gio Altamirano Rayo
This course carries out a comparative study of the nature of courts and law, their position in political systems and the role of judges as political actors, and the potential of legal political institutions to impact society. The course is very theoretical and is organized around key themes and concepts, rather than historical detail on countries. We will examine the political and regime logic behind the origin of judicial power, competing theories about judicial decision making, the meaning and significance of judicial independence, and the potential effectiveness of courts as tools for social and political change.
84-387 / 84-687 Technology and Policy of Cyber War
Professor Isaac Porche
Mini 4 (Section A4)
This course examines underlying and emerging technologies and policies associated with cyber war and cyber threats. The technological concepts reviewed in this course include but are not limited to the internet, networks and sensors, and trends associated with "hyperconnectivity" (e.g., The Internet of Things). The course will review history, international policy, military doctrine, and lessons learned from the use of cyber operations and cyberspace in conflicts. The principle objective of this course is to introduce students to the technological and policy variables that affect the ability to manage cyber conflicts.
84-389 / 84-689 Terrorism and Insurgency
Professor Colin Clarke
There are many forms of political violence but not all are created equal. Some, like terrorism, are a tactic while others, like insurgency, are a strategy. How important is it to define terrorism and insurgency? What are the differences and similarities between them? This course will go into depth to analyze both terrorism and insurgency and their various manifestations. The course will provide a historical overview of how terrorism and insurgency have evolved over time, while also focusing on groups, methods, ideologies and organizational structures. Is the terrorism conducted by Salafist groups like Al-Qaida and the Islamic State significantly different than that perpetrated by ethno-nationalist groups like the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Tamil Tigers? What are the best methods to counter-terrorism and how successful have states been- both historically and more recently- at combating the threat posed by terrorism and insurgency?
84-393 / 84-693 Legislative Decision Making: US Congress
Professor Geoff McGovern
Mini 4 (Section A4)
This course analyzes decision-making by the United States Congress. The course examines legislative behavior by focusing on the way Congress is organized (institutional and constitutional structure) and the ways legislators, voters, and various other parties interact (strategic constraints). Students will both learn the legislative process and explore the influence of norms, rules, expectations, incentives and, perhaps most important of all, the power of the electorate in influencing legislative outcomes and policy. Elections, voting decisions, committee assignments, political party power, and intra-branch relations across the Federal government are some of the topics into which we will delve. This course does not require any prior knowledge of the U.S. Congress, and there are no prerequisites for the course.
84-450 / 84-750 Policy Forum
Professor Susan Sohler Everingham
Mini 4 (Section B4 for 84-450 / Section A4 for 84-750)
The Policy Forum course takes a critical look at decision making in domestic politics and US foreign policy. It does so through weekly roundtable discussions with a diverse set of thought leaders. Based on intellectually significant essays that students are expected to read in advance of each class, these discussions give students an opportunity to ask probing questions about the three branches of the US government, media, embassies, advocacy groups, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. This course seeks to help students understand the responsibilities and activities that leaders and decision makers carry out on behalf of their organizations. Students are instructed in how to confidently and respectfully ask critical questions of those shaping policy. The term "roundtabling" is used to describe submitting an issue for critical discussion among relevant stakeholders. Knowing how to direct a roundtable is a significant element in the professional development of anyone interested in taking part in the policy arena, and this course helps students hone this important skill. In requiring students to read important essays related to each class session and then step back from discussions with leaders to write analytical essays, this course teaches students how to develop strong arguments based on solid logic and credible evidence, an essential component in making democracy work.
84-720 International Security Graduate Seminar
Professor Molly Dunigan
This seminar is a graduate-level introduction to the field of international security. The course focuses on issues concerning the conduct of war and military strategy, surveying both classic texts and recent works on important security policy issues. The course has three main objectives: (1) to introduce students to the complexities of the relationship between political ends, military means, and the strategy linking the two; (2) to familiarize students with major theoretical perspectives in international security; and (3) to survey key substantive areas and debates in the field, with reference where appropriate to particular case studies. Questions animating this course include: Why is force used? What causes peace? How does the possibility of war shape international relations and domestic socio-economic arrangements? By what criteria should the use of force be considered legitimate? How can governments effectively prepare to prevent wars, or to win them if they occur? Is the world safer after the Cold War? What are the similarities and differences between inter-state wars, civil wars, and armed conflict between states and transnational actors (such as terrorist groups)?