PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIS = History IDS = Independent Study G = General Course
PHIL = Philosophy RD = Research Design M = Methods Course WP = Writing Politics
Spring 2020 Course Descriptions
Ruth O’Brien/David Waldstreicher (AP)
Race, Gender & American Political Development
PSC 72009 – 3 credits
Tuesday 11:45am – 1:45pm
Crosslist with HIST 74600 & WSCP 81000
Course Description: This course explores persistent binaries that have arguably structured political thought and practice in the United States. On the one hand, the U.S. has been imagined as a place where people can rise through merit and opportunity, unconstrained by the oppressions of the past and of other places. Geographic mobility – settlement, migration, immigration – is mapped on to social mobility in the accepted meaning of the phrase “American Dream.” Yet U.S. history is marked by war and violence, to such a striking extent that scholars and pundits have periodically diagnosed the culture as peculiarly, even uniquely violent. Given the recent resurgence of angry and martial rhetoric at the center of national politics, how might we understand the relationship between the revolutionary or Enlightenment dreams of progress on the one hand, and the recurrent dread or nightmare of decline and oppression, as shaping facts of specifically political traditions? To what extent, in what ways, are exceptionalist understandings of U.S. political traditions a problem or a solution? Do accounts that stress race, or gender, or the confluence of the two, provide a necessary or sufficient theory or counter narrative of political development? Do frameworks developed in European politics, in critical theory, postcolonial thought, or in domestic vernaculars comprehend the dream/dread in the past and present? What kinds of analytical scholarship and storytelling have been adequate to the task?
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David Jones (AP)
PSC 82008 – 4 credits
Tuesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Course Description: The United States Congress is one of the most powerful representative assemblies and the most extensively studied political institutions in the world. This course is designed to help students develop a basic understanding of the major works and debates in the scholarly study of Congress, as well as the ability to explain, synthesize, and critique them. The course is targeted for students seeking to complete the department’s first exam in American politics. Required readings for the course include those in the Congress section of the American Politics Reading List, among many others that are foundational in the literature. The course will cover Congress both from the perspective of individual members, including roll call voting and representation, and the institution as a whole, including committees, parties, leaders, and rules. We will conclude by discussing the ability of Congress to adequately carry out its Constitutional duties in our current era of polarized politics.
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Susan Woodward (CP)
PSC 87800 – 4 credits
Tuesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Course Description: Civil war is a subject of scholarly study as old as the field of political science itself. The topic has taken on a new prominence, however, in the post-cold war international environment, and academic research has exploded in the past 25 years. Although the topic is by definition in the field of comparative politics – civil wars are wars that are internal to a particular country and its sovereign borders – this definition does not reflect the reality of contemporary civil wars, including structural causes located in globalization, their regional and transnational dynamics, and the new normative consensus internationally on both the right and the responsibility to intervene to stop the violence.
Thus, the study of civil wars crosses back and forth between the subfields of comparative politics and international relations. In the three aspects of civil war on which the readings and discussion of the seminar will focus – the literatures on their causes, on their political dynamics, and (less) on their termination and possible solutions, whether done autonomously or by international intervention – students in the seminar have ample room to choose which literatures of political science are most of interest to their study and research, even though the seminar itself is classified as a course in comparative politics. This is a research seminar, which means that the readings and discussion will aim to make the student as knowledgeable about the literature, its debates, unanswered questions, and research frontiers as possible, while each student’s goal is a research project and paper. Projects will be defined early in the semester, and collaborative work will be encouraged. Grading will be based on participation in discussion on the readings as well as the final research paper.
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Julie George (CP)
Basic Theories & Concepts in Comparative Politics II
PSC 77904 – 3 credits
Thursday 11:45am – 1:45pm
Course Description: Practitioners of comparative politics leverage myriad tools in order to examine, understand, measure, and predict political behavior across state contexts. At its heart, political science is an effort to understand political phenomena, but its practitioners often disagree about the best ways to infer meaning from them. This course will introduce students to some of the main methods used in Comparative Politics, with the goal of not only making students good consumers of comparative politics research methodologically, but also enable their next steps in developing and conducting their own independent comparative politics work.
The course proceeds along three main lines of inquiry. First, it offers a framework for students to recognize the benefits and tradeoffs associated with methodological choice in comparative politics. Second, the course will provide students practical insights into their own research projects, delving into the everyday process of the creation of political knowledge and complexities undertaken in designing and implementing research tasks. To this end, we will examine how political scientists have faced the practical mission of finding a research question, placing it in a theoretical literature, and conducting the research to draw valid and reliable conclusions. Finally, students will practice various methods to examine research questions.
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Peter Romaniuk (IR)
PSC 86207 – 4 credits
Tuesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Course Description: In the period since the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, terrorism has become a permanent fixture on the international security agenda, as well as being a primary domestic security concern for many states. Terrorist violence and state responses to terrorism have had broad and deep impacts on international relations and on human security. Prior to 9/11, and in the years since, the strategies and tactics of terrorism (and counterterrorism) have continued to evolve. Today and into the future, knowledge of global terrorism is critical for students and scholars seeking to understand international security. This course is an advanced-level survey of terrorism and the politics that surround it. The course aims to: prepare students to become informed and critical consumers of claims to knowledge about terrorism, whether they are manifested in scholarship, policy, popular debates in the media, or elsewhere, and; advance student’s capacity to produce robust social science research about terrorism and counterterrorism.
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Peter Liberman (IR/AP)
U.S. Foreigh Policy
PSC 86101 – 4 credits (Class# )
Wednesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Course Description: An examination of the sources of U.S. foreign policies. Since the United States is in many ways similar to other democracies, capitalist states, great powers, etc., lessons from the U.S. experience are relevant to general theories of foreign policy. International relations students and practitioners also need to understand the foreign policies of the world’s predominant power, including how it behaves differently from other states. The course should also interest Americanists, for there is much overlap between the politics of foreign and domestic policymaking. The course is generally divided by policy area, rather than by chronology, theoretical approach, or method. Most sessions examine alternative theories and methods applied to a single foreign policy behavior.
The theoretical approaches include realist, institutionalist, organizational, cultural/ideational, psychological, and political-economy explanations. The course applies these theories to several U.S. security, economic, environmental, and humanitarian policies, though the emphasis will be on security policy, which consumes the greatest share of governmental attention and resources (especially nowadays). The course readings include both synthetic review essays, which are helpful for suggesting research topics, as well as examples of state-of-the-art research, which provide useful models of research design and execution. The latter readings reflect a variety of research methods, including qualitative historical research as well quantitative public opinion and congressional voting research. As a research seminar, class discussion will focus on research design and unanswered questions and puzzles that could help students generate their own research projects, both in the context of the course and beyond
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Jacqueline Braveboy Wagner (IR/CP)
Comparative Foreign Policy Analysis
PSC 86105 – 4 credits
Thursday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Course Description: Foreign Policy Analysis remains one of the most popular subfields of international relations. Even though rational and positivist approaches have predominated in the field in the US, elsewhere a generous dose of comparative “area studies” ethnography as well as increasingly popular constructivist and critical thinking have invigorated the field. In this specialized course we first ask how the study of foreign policy is different from international relations as a whole. We then walk through the approaches used to analyze foreign policy, from realist views of the state as a protector and promoter of “national interests” to the Comparative Foreign Policy movement that came to the fore when so many Africa and Asian nations became independent, to the FPA of today which is rather too U.S.-dominated, and now to a renewed interest in two not incompatible approaches: regionalizing foreign policy and *worlding* foreign policy (that is, focusing on how a really universal approach to foreign policy can be attained; this is part of the overall Global IR movement).
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Robyn Marasco (PT)
Contemporary Political Theory
PSC 71901 – 3 credits
Monday 11:45am – 1:45pm
Crosslist with WSCP 81000
Course Description: This course provides a rigorous introduction to major works of political theory in the twentieth century. Our seminar will proceed as close readings of whole books and essays, on the assumption that political theory is best digested in non-excerpted form and that a different group of interpretive muscles are flexed when we linger on a work in its (exhaustive and exhausting) entirety. Readings will include works by Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, CLR James, Theodor Adorno, Louis Althusser, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, John Rawls, Catherine MacKinnon, and Jacques Ranciere. This seminar is designed primarily for Political Science graduate students preparing a concentration in political theory, but it is also open to students in Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology, Women’s Studies, and related fields. This seminar will be especially useful for students preparing for their comprehensive exams in political theory.
By the end of the semester, you should expect to:
- Distinguish among various approaches to contemporary political theory and the traditions upon which they build.
- Develop reading & writing skills and, especially, the capacity to build compelling, arguments on major thinkers and topics in contemporary political theory.
- Acquire the foundations for preparation of the contemporary political theory portion of your comprehensive exam in political theory.
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Susan Buck-Morss (PT)
Benjamin as Method
PSC 80602 – 4 credits
Tuesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Course Description: In-depth readings of a wide range of Walter Benjamin’s writings in historical-political context, from World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, to World War II and the Vichy Regime. We will focus on philosophical method. What in his way of working escapes certain modern and post-modern dead-ends of theory? Excerpts from all five volumes of his Selected Works will be consulted.
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Uday Mehta (PT)
Ancient Greek Political Theory
PSC 80304 – 4 credits
Wednesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Course Description: This course will offer an introduction to the political thought of Plato and Aristotle; it is organized around important and classic texts of the Western philosophic tradition. The questions that will structure this course will include: Why is the study of politics and ethics something about which we need and can have general theories? What is the status of an "ideal" polity with respect to actual polities? What do the thinkers take to be the original motivation underlying the formation of political society? How do these motivations conform to the normative prescriptions that they propose? How do notions such as friendship and virtue relate to the understanding of citizenship? What are the justifications underlying the various proposed institutional arrangements and under what conditions can these arrangements be legitimately suspended? Finally, does the organizing of political life of necessity do violence to a more noble conception of human potentiality?
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Benedetto Fontana (PT)
PSC 71906 – 3 credits
Thursday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Course Description: This course will focus on Machiavelli and his interpreters. It will engage his thought through a close reading of his major political works, The Prince, the Discourses and The Art of War, as well as some of his minor works, The Life of Castruccio Castracani, A Provision for Infantry, Discourse on Remodeling the Government of Florence, the Tercets on Ambition and On Fortune. There is no need to underline the importance of such a course for a student of politics and of political theory. That he has had a broad and profound influence on political thought cannot be denied. He has been called teacher of evil, founder of modernity, partisan of republicanism, defender of tyranny, discoverer of a new science of politics, amoral realist and impassioned idealist. The very ambiguity (and popularity) of the term “Machiavellian” testifies to the range and depth of this influence. In addition, the course will examine different interpretations, or different ways of reading, Machiavelli—such as reason of state, republican, democratic, Straussian, rhetorical and revolutionary. In effect, the course will offer a reading of several of Machiavelli’s writings, and it will at the same time delve into the various approaches to, and interpretations of, his politics and thought.
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John Mollenkopf (PP)
Immigrant Communities & Policies in NYC
PSC 83800 – 4 credits
Monday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Crosslist with SOC 82800
Course Description: The vast flow of immigrants into New York City (and the surrounding metro area) since 1965 has reshaped the composition of its population and potential electorate, altered neighborhood dynamics, and created new ethnic political constituencies over the last several decades. Caribbean, Latin American, East and South Asian, European, and African immigrants and their native-born children are making our already cosmopolitan mix of racial and ethnic groups even more varied, posing new challenges for inter-group relations and the fair and vigorous political representation of all groups. The emerging new immigrant communities are now contending for power not just against older native-born white political elites, but also against native-born minority groups. They are redefining what it means to be a New Yorker, and, ultimately, to be American. Such a profound transformation raises many major research questions for social scientists.
This seminar uses New York City as a laboratory to analyze the political changes brought about by the new immigration. It will cover the existing theoretical and empirical literatures on racial and immigrant ethnic political incorporation and will enable you to do a "hands on" research project for the immigrant-origin constituency of your choice.
● Students will use quantitative data provided by the instructor (Census data, election results), secondary sources (such as the immigrant and neighborhood press), and their own interviews to describe and analyze the civic and political engagement of an immigrant ethnic group
● in the process, students will study the patterns of political activism within the group (in terms of developing political goals and strategies and tactics to realize them) and how they interact with other racial/ethnic groups in their environment (with attention to patterns of conflict and/or cooperation0.
● The goal of this research is to understand how leadership is developing within your study group, how those leaders seek to promote group identity and activism, and how they become elected or appointed office holders as the larger civic and political culture gradually integrates them.
Class members will pursue these goals by: 1) reviewing key studies on the overall process of immigrant political incorporation in New York and other cities, 2) reading studies about political participation within the major immigrant groups, 3) analyzing Census data, election results, and voter history, and available public opinion polls regarding the political engagement and leanings of your chosen group, and 4) undertaking interviews of political elites from your group, focused on the coming 2020 and 2021 state and local elections. (We will hold a workshop for students who lack basic quantitative skills and may also substitute further qualitative work for the quantitative analysis.)
Janet Gornick (PP)
Social Policy and Socio-Economic Outcomes in Industrialized Countries
PSC 73903 – 3 credits
Tuesday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Crosslist: SOC 84001
Course Description: This course provides an introduction to cross-national comparative research, with a focus on socio-economic outcomes and on the policies and institutions that shape those outcomes. The course will draw heavily on research based on data available through LIS, a data archive located in Luxembourg, with a satellite office here at the Graduate Center. (See https://www.lisdatacenter.org for details).
LIS contains two main microdatabases. The Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database includes 300+ microdatasets from over 50 high- and middle-income countries. These datasets contain comprehensive measures of income, employment, and household characteristics. A smaller, companion dataset – the Luxembourg Wealth Study (LWS) Database – provides microdata on assets and debt. Since the mid-1980s, the LIS data have been used by more than 5000 researchers – mostly sociologists, economists, and political scientists – to analyze cross-country and over-time variation in diverse outcomes such as poverty, income inequality, employment status, wage patterns, gender inequality and family structure. Many researchers have combined LIS’ microdata with various macrodatasets to study, for example, the effects of national social or labor market policies on socio-economic outcomes, or to link socio-economic variation to national-level outcomes such as immigration, child well-being, health status, political attitudes and voting behavior.
The course has two goals: (1) to review and synthesize 30+ years of research results based on the LIS data; and (2) to enable students with programming skills (in SAS, SPSS, Stata, or R) to carry out and complete an original piece of empirical research. (The LIS and LWS data are accessed through an internet-based "remote-execution system". All students are permitted to use the LIS microdata at no cost and without limit.)
The course will require a semester-long research project. Students with programming skills (which will not be taught in the course) will be encouraged to complete an empirical analysis, reported in a term paper. Ideally, these term papers will be circulated as LIS/LWS Working Papers – and ultimately in published venues. Students without programming skills will have the option to write a synthetic research paper. A minimum requirement is the capacity to read articles that present quantitative research results.
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Leslie McCall (PP)
Politics of Inequality
PSC 73901 – 3 credits
Wednesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Crosslist with SOC 84600
Course Description: This course will cover both substantive developments and measurement issues and analytic approaches across the social sciences. It focuses on both the substantive and analytical/methodological aspects of the relationship between politics and economic inequality. Specifically, the objectives are to become familiar with (1) the different levels of analysis involved in the study of the politics of inequality, opportunity, and redistribution, namely, the role of political institutions (i.e., parties, electoral systems, policy regimes, etc.) on the one hand, and behavioral dynamics (e.g., individual beliefs, policy preferences, and voting choices) on the other hand, in shaping political and economic outcomes, and (2) the strengths and weaknesses of various methodological approaches to analyzing institutional and behavioral processes, such as political economy, public opinion and survey research, experimental research, ethnography, and discourse/textual analysis.
To accomplish these objectives, readings will be interdisciplinary and include theoretical texts at the start of the course and empirically-based, substantive and methodological studies employing quantitative (including experimental) and qualitative data and methods throughout the rest of the semester (though the balance will be toward quantitative studies). Students will therefore learn both theoretical and methodological skills, and their interdependence, in the study of the politics of inequality, opportunity, and redistribution. We will also integrate the research on class inequality with ongoing research on other dimensions of inequality, such as gender and racial/ethnic inequality
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Michael Fortner (PP)
Race and the Evolution of Public Policy in the US
PSC 72500 – 3 credits
Wednesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Course Description: This course examines the relationship between race and public policy development in the United States. The course begins by exploring a series of conceptual, theoretical, and historical questions: How do we conceptualize and measure white supremacy? How does white supremacy interact with other structural forms of inequality, specifically gender and class? How has race shaped American political development? Then we will then turn to case-by-case examinations of the impact of race, class, and gender on several contemporary federal public policy areas like social welfare, immigration, and crime. This course draws primarily from political science, but also incorporates historical, sociological, legal scholarship and critically assess race and public policy
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General courses and Cross-field
Peter Beinart (G)
Writing Politics II
PSC 79002 – 4 credits
Course Description: Writing Politics II is the successor to Writing Politics I, although students may take it without taking the predecessor. The biggest difference is that we will focus more on writing for publication. The goal will be for each student to publish at least one of the columns they write. We will start by coming up with a list of the publications that each student wants to target. We will then focus our reading on those publications, since in submitting to a particular publication, it is critical to understand its particular style and perspective. If a piece is ready for publication on the first draft, I will not ask for a rewrite. If the first draft suggests no hope of publication, I may suggest we choose a different topic rather than requesting a second draft.
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Samantha Majic (G)
Advanced Qualitative Methods
PSC 85506 – 4 credits
Course Description: This course will introduce students to the principles and methods of qualitative research. During the semester, we will consider epistemological debates about this research and cover the primary qualitative methods used by researchers in the social sciences, including interviews, focus groups, ethnography, participant observation, archival research, feminist methods, and research with visual materials. In addition to analyzing the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each method, students will gain experience using each approach and learn about the major steps of the research process, including project design and implementation, data analysis, and writing and publishing.
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Susan Woodward (G)
Dissertation Proposal Workshop
PSC 89100 – 0 credits
Course Description: This workshop aims to assist students in writing their dissertation proposal in political science and passing the second examination. It introduces students to the principles and organization of a defensible proposal, provides advice on conceptualization and research strategies, and, where relevant to the workshop participants, discusses methodological questions. It is a genuine workshop, where students provide each other a mutually supportive setting to share the stages of their written drafts, get feedback, identify and resolve issues being faced by many, and learn the skills of analytical criticism necessary to one’s own future research and teaching. Each member works at a personal, self-identified pace, but also accepts the obligation of reciprocity to attend all meetings of the workshop and read the drafts of all other workshop members. The key to progress is the obligation to write every single week, even if it only means a paragraph (although, of course, one hopes more). The first meeting of the workshop will lay out the principles of a dissertation proposal and advice about how to proceed; anyone missing it will be at a distinct, even possibly irreparable, disadvantage for the rest of the workshop. The workshop does not give course credit, therefore has no grading, and you can take the course more than once. More than a decade of experience shows that a very large percentage of those who take the workshop produce a completed dissertation proposal within the one semester and succeed in passing the second exam either at the end of the spring semester or at the end of the summer before the deadline for moving to Level III in the fall.
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Alyson Cole (G)
Teaching Political Science
PSC 71300 – 3 credits
Course Description: This course serves a dual purpose: first, to encourage students to reflect on the vocation of teaching, and second, to provide an environment in which students can explore various pedagogical techniques and prepare for teaching on the campuses in the fall. We begin the semester with two classic reflections on the art of teaching as well as recent public debates about some challenges of professing, and then move on to consider such practical issues as syllabus development, effective learning goals, assessment strategies, class preparation, and grading practices.
We will also discuss aspects of the profession beyond the classroom, such as mentoring students and writing letters of recommendation. In addition to our pedagogical inquiries, students will be introduced to their colleagues who are already teaching on the campuses. This class is designed for doctoral students in political science who are obligated to teach at the colleges as part of their fellowship agreement, but it is open to any political science doctoral student. With instructor permission political science MA students, and doctoral and masters students from other programs at the Graduate Center, may also enroll.
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Till Weber (G)
Applied Quantitative Research: Correlation, Comparison, Causality
PSC 89101 – 4 credits
Course Description: Statistics show that students who take statistics classes are professionally more successful, socially more popular and physically more attractive than their peers. So, which side are you on now? On the other hand, perhaps you are more interested in the analytical value of statistics, which is no less profound. Knowing about the powers of quantitative analysis will make you ask questions about politics you might otherwise never have considered. With a manageable kit of statistical tools, you can uncover structure in the political world where before was only fog or chaos. Even better, while learning all these wonderful things, you will also fulfill the methods requirement of the political science programs.
The course follows the credo that comparison is at the heart of all analysis. While this might be particularly appealing to “comparativists,” we consider comparative politics as a universal method of inference, not as a subfield of the discipline. The class is equally valuable for all substantive specializations concerned with empirical regularities and causal explanations. Distilling causality from regularity is the job of comparison. This is of course a widely shared aim, and the quantie world has some particularly neat tricks in store. You do not need to be a math whiz to master these (this instructor is living proof).
Our approach will be hands-on and pragmatic.
The course cuts across the conventional division of basic and advanced statistics to facilitate the immediate implementation of diverse quantitative designs. Everyone is welcome irrespective of prior statistical training. If you are currently conducting quantitative research, feel encouraged to bring your problems to class. If you are considering collecting your own data, use the opportunity to anticipate the challenges waiting down the road. If you believe that quantitative methods inherently reproduce capitalist exploitation, help us liberate oppressed regression coefficients from the clutches of neoliberal positivism.
Alternatively, if you are just looking for something new, come along to get inspiration and pick up versatile skills. Over the course of the semester, students will enjoy the quantie boot camp™, learn how to use the statistical software Stata, conduct their own quantitative research, present their work in class, and produce a final paper. The instructor actively supports each project and makes sure that it builds on and advances the methodological expertise of the student(s) involved. Credit is awarded for achievement relative to initial proficiency.
From the fall of 2020 on, a more advanced version of this course will be the third in a three-course methods sequence in the political science program. If you wonder whether to take the more basic version now, the more advanced version next fall, or both, please contact the instructor. Please also note that two sections of this course are offered in the spring (the other one being Prof. Tien’s). Feel free to ask our advice if you are torn between these two.
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Charles Tien (G)
PSC 85507 – 4 credits
Course Description: This is the second course in a three-course quantitative methods sequence in the CUNY graduate political science program. Students should take Research Design before registering for this course, which is open to MA and PhD students. The aim of this course is to introduce graduate students to linear regression models. These models are the foundation of empirical political science research and the most commonly used statistical method in the field. Thus, it is important for graduate students to understand the theory and practice of regression analysis. The course will start with a review of univariate statistics and then proceed to bivariate statistics. By the end of the course, students will understand the assumptions behind ordinary least squares regression, be able to locate and analyze data of their choice using univariate and bivariate statistics and linear regression, and be ready to tackle more advanced methods.
Another aim of the course is to have students think of themselves as future contributors of empirical work, as well as critical consumers. In that spirit, there will be an emphasis on "learning-by-doing." Student will locate a political science data set of interest to them by the third week of the semester that will be used to carry out weekly homework exercises. By doing so, students will complete preliminary analysis on a quantitative project that could be the foundation of a research paper in a higher level class that could be presented at a conference or submitted for publication. Students will be evaluated on weekly homework assignments and an in-class final exam.
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Richard Wolin (PT)
The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt
PSC 71908 – 3 credits
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Crosslist with HIST. 72400
Course Description: Since her untimely death in 1975, Hannah Arendt’s stature as a political thinker has increased exponentially. In 1950 she authored the first important study of totalitarianism – a work that, today, among scholars remains an indispensable point of reference. In the late 1950s and early 1960s she published, in rapid succession, a series of path breaking works that consolidated her reputation as one of the twentieth-century’s most significant and innovative political philosophers: the Human Condition (1958), On Revolution (1962), and Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963). During the 1920s she studied philosophy with the two titans of German existentialism, Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, and she played an indispensable role in introducing their ideas to the English-speaking world. During her Paris exile, she befriended the literary critic Walter Benjamin and helped to introduce his work to an American public. Arendt also excelled as a letter writer and as a public intellectual, contributing regularly to Partisan Review and the New York Review of Books. She has been the subject of numerous biographical and academic studies. Plays and films have been devoted to her fascinating intellectual itinerary. In Germany there are not one, but two think tanks devoted to her work (Hamburg and Dresden). And during the 1990s, also in the country of her birth, she received the ultimate accolade: a high-speed train was named in her honor. As a thinker Arendt never shied away from taking risks – “thinking without bannisters,” she called it. Aspects of her work have proved controversial: above all, her employment of the epithet, “the banality of evil,” to describe Adolf Eichmann’s role in the Final Solution. In our course, we will focus primarily on Arendt’s contributions as a political thinker, in major works such as Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and On Revolution. But we will also consider her status and role as a flashpoint for some of the major intellectual controversies and debates of her time – and ours.
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Branko Milanovic (PP)
Within National Inequalities: From Pareto to Piketty
PSC 73902 – 3 credits
Wednesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Crosslist with SOC 84600 & IDS 81600
Course Description: The objective of the course is to review and analyze different theories about the forces that influence inter-personal income distribution within a single policy-making unit (that is, within a nation-state). The first such theory was developed by Vilfredo Pareto more than 100 years ago. Pareto believes that income distribution does not change regardless of a social system and level of development. Simon Kuznets, in the 1950s, posited, on the contrary, a theory where income inequality evolves as societies get richer. Jan Tinbergen, in the 1970s, argued that the level of inequality is determined by the two opposing forces of education and technological change. More recently, Thomas Piketty argued that low growth combined with high returns to capital predisposes advanced economies to high levels of inequality. In 2016, Milanovic introduced “Kuznets waves” claiming that structural transformations (from agriculture to manufacturing, and more recently from manufacturing to services) are associated with increases in inter-personal inequality. These theories will be considered on the real-world examples of inequality changes in the United States and other rich OECD countries, China and Brazil. The class shall focus especially on the recent evolution of income and wealth inequality in the United States and Piketty’s analytical contributions. The class is empirical, and at times mathematical, but does not require any prior specific knowledge of the issues nor techniques. It is recommended for students of economics, political science, and sociology.
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