This course introduces students to positive political theory, a rigorous set of tools that helps clarify key questions in political science. Through examples drawn from all aspects of the political process (from elections to lawmaking to regulation) as well as from everyday life (where should we go for dinner?) and Hollywood (Russell Crowe and Reese Witherspoon as political scientists?), we will study how the rules of the game affect the decisions politicians make as well as the policy outcomes we observe.
Data analysis has become a key part of many fields including politics, business, law, and public policy. This course covers the fundamentals of data analysis, giving students the necessary statistical skills to understand and critically analyze contemporary political, legal, and policy puzzles. Lectures will focus on the theory and practice of quantitative analysis, and weekly lab sessions will guide students through the particulars of statistical software. No prior knowledge of statistics or data analysis is required. Without special permission of the instructor, students may not enroll in this course if they have earned credit and a letter grade for ECO 230, PSC 205, PSY/CSP 211, STT 211, STT 212, STT 213, STT 214, or any other course in statistics, or if they have received a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement exam in Statistics.
Each semester we study the causes and consequences of the most recent elections and the issue dynamics that are shaping the next set of elections. We consider how our election rules, such as the presidential Electoral College and the single member plurality elections used in congressional elections, affect the choices candidates make to win office. And we identify how these rules advantage or disadvantage various types of candidates. Some issues, such as party polarization and campaign finance reform are generally in the news and of thus of continuing interest. But new issues will arise and we will discuss these as they come up over the course of the semester.
When can Congress agree on the best policy for the country (and what does "best" even mean)? How does the electoral college affect Presidential campaigns? How does the Supreme Court choose what cases to hear? This course uses a rigorous set of tools including game theory to help students understand the structure of American government. With these tools, we will study US electoral systems, Congress, the Presidency and the executive branch, federalism, and the courts, with a focus on the challenges of group decision making and the inevitable conflicts that arise between the branches of government. Students will leave the course with a deeper understanding of how rules and strategy shape U.S. democracy. No prior background in game theory is necessary for this course.
The Cold War is typically seen as a political struggle between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., yet it was played out on and directly affected the peoples of Europe — Western, Central and Eastern. Through the prism of its societies, the course will trace the splitting of the continent, the deepening divides, and the overriding consequences for states across Europe. From a socio-political perspective focused especially on Central Europe, we will analyze the most dramatic and significant turning points such as the Berlin Airlift in 1949 and the Polish Solidarity strikes in 1980. We will survey internal as well as external, actions and reactions spanning nearly five decades until the implosion of the entire communist system between 1989 and 1991. The course will close with a look at currently rising tensions between Europe and Russia, already referred to as a new Cold War.
This course will give an introduction to how public policy is made in the United States. People, organizations, and political institutions will be discussed individually and how these entities amalgamate to create and implement public policy. Case studies of recent policymaking (e.g., regulating tobacco, financial regulation) will be central components of the course.
An examination of international environmental law and policy with a special focus on efforts to address climate change. This course serves as a companion to PSC 246, but PSC 246 is not a prerequisite. The goal of this course is to provide a foundational understanding of this rapidly developing, controversial field. Topics include consideration of the scientific, political, and economic drivers of international environmental law; the variety of tools (e.g., treaties, agreements, "soft law," voluntary incentive programs and market based approaches); and examples of how some international environmental issues have been addressed to date. Finally, we will examine the 2015 Paris Climate Change Accord, subsequent developments and international efforts to get closer to a "grand climate solution." This course will be taught through lectures, discussion, several concise papers, and a group discussion and project(s).
Through analysis of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we examine criminal procedure as elaborated by federal and state court decisions. Topics include arrest procedures, search and seizure, right to counsel, and police interrogation and confessions. We will discuss the theoretical principles of criminal procedure and the application of those principles to the actual operation of the criminal court system.
An examination of environmental issues facing the United States from a social scientific perspective. Topics include the reasons for environmental regulation and the means to deals with associated problems, the history of environmental policy, the state of contemporary environmental policy and current efforts at change, the role of state and local governments, the impact of environmental activists, and the state of climate change policies. Although there is considerable time devoted to lecture, students are strongly encouraged to participate. Each student will also develop and briefly present a research paper which investigates a relevant issue of personal interest.
This course will provide a non-partisan introduction to the conflict between these two national movements. Discussion will focus on an examination of historical documents, in addition to understanding of how it plays out in literature and film.
Despite three waves of democratization, many countries around the world are still governed by leaders who hold power by means other than free and fair elections. In this course we will examine topics including how authoritarian regimes survive, the conditions under which they democratize, and their human welfare consequences. We will cover historical authoritarian cases such as twentieth-century communist and fascist regimes, and current authoritarian regimes in China, the Middle East, and Africa. The course will cover political science theories of authoritarian regimes and individual country case studies. Class will be conducted in a weekly discussion format.
This course takes up three questions: What is ethnicity and when is it politically important? How does ethnic politics matter for economic outcomes? What is the relationship between ethnic politics and political violence? Class materials will include theoretical accounts of ethnic politics and research from a variety of countries, including Nigeria, India, Thailand, Syria, France, and the United States. One of the themes of the course will be comparing research on ethnic politics conducted in the United States to research from other contexts. Students will be evaluated based on weekly individual and/or group projects, preparation to discuss weekly readings; participation in class; and a take-home final essay.
This seminar examines the nature of political parties and political competition across democracies in the developed and developing worlds. Issues analyzed include the formation of different types of parties, their role in agenda-setting, policy-making and representation, and their transformation in the post-World War II era.
Why are some countries poor, while others enjoy a high standard of living? Why some enjoy stability and freedoms, while others suffer with corruption, repression and violence? Why countries stagnate or decline in their economic development. This course is designed to provide a broad theoretical framework for thinking about these problems, focusing on the political and institutional causes of differences in economic development across countries. Topics include the role of political systems, leaders, and institutions in economic growth. The relationship between development and ethnic and class conflict, corruption, culture, the organization of state, electoral rules, and democratization. The role of Western intervention in the developing world, from slavery to modern foreign aid.
The bargaining model of war is the main theoretical tool in the study of international conflict these days. But the model brackets, i.e., ignores, the question of what gets put on the bargaining table in the first place, and what leaders and states choose not to contest. In this course, we examine the issues states fight over from both a historical as well as contemporary perspective. The course will involve some basic new analytical tools such as GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and some very basic data analysis.
Game theory is a systematic study of strategic situations. It is a theory that helps us analyze economic and political strategic issues, such as behavior of individuals in a group, competition among firms in a market, platform choices of political candidates, and so on. We will develop the basic concepts and results of game theory, including simultaneous and sequential move games, repeated games and games with incomplete information. The objective of the course is to enable the student to analyze strategic situations on his/her own. The emphasis of the course is on theoretical aspects of strategic behavior, so familiarity with mathematical formalism is desirable.
The debate on the role of the state versus that of the free market in the socioeconomic process is as old as the history of political economy. We discuss what economists, political scientists, & economic historians characterize as the Washington consensus versus the Beijing consensus or the Asian model. This is followed by a discussion of the contributions of some notable thinkers — Adam Smith, Alexander Hamilton, Friedrich List, John Maynard Keynes, & Friedrich von Hayek. The greater part of the course deals with selected historical cases across the globe. The discussions are informed by a political economy conceptual framework, which helps to explain the politics and economics of state policy and the long-run historical processes that created the political & economic conditions. Students' performance is based on three short essays (four typed pages each) presented to the class for discussion and thereafter revised for grading. No mid-term & final examinations.
The 2010 Brazilian national census shows 97.2 million Afro-Brazilians and 90.6 million Whites. These two ethnic nationalities have developed unequally since the establishment of colonial Brazil by Portugal in the sixteenth century. The 2010 census shows the average income of Afro-Brazilians was less than half that of White Brazilians. In 2009, the wealth gap between White and Black American families was $236,500. The most populous African nation, Nigeria, shows similar inequality among its major ethnic nationalities. This magnitude of inequality among ethnic nationalities has given rise to serious problems in inter-group relations in the three countries. This course aims to trace, comparatively, the historical origins of the phenomenon, examine the political and economic consequences, and discuss the politics and economics of state policy designed to address it.
This course offers a unique opportunity for students to engage critically with justice in courthouses in local communities. Students will participate in hands-on experiential work in a selected area of focus at the Monroe County Courthouse in Rochester. Areas of focus to choose from include adult criminal justice, juvenile justice, treatment courts, domestic violence court, court-community partnerships, or equity disparities in the court. Weekly class meetings include university faculty and Judge Craig Doran, Chief Supervising Judge of all courts in the region, who share their perspectives, research, and experience on the matters addressed by students at the courthouse. This provides students with immediate immersion in both the theoretical and practical applications of justice in society. This course requires students spend 6 hours per week at the Monroe County Courts at the Hall of Justice in Rochester.
In this course, we will examine the linear regression model and its variants. The course has two goals: (1) to provide students with the statistical theory of the linear model, and (2) to provide students with skills for analyzing data. The linear model is a natural starting point for understanding regression models in general, inferences based on them, and problems with our inferences due to data issues or to model misspecification. The model's relative tractability has made it an attractive tool for political scientists, resulting in volumes of research using the methods studied here. Familiarity with the linear model is now essentially required if one wants to be a consumer or producer of modern political science research.
This course is part of a rigorous introduction to the main concepts and results in positive political theory. It is the second half of a two-course sequence consisting of PSC 407 and PSC 408. This course will focus on the basics of game theory, which analyzes individual behavior in strategic situations. It will also cover the mathematical tools required to express the theory. Examples and applications will be drawn from several different areas in political science, including the American Congress, voting, international relations, political economy, and law.
The aim of the seminar is to encourage students to examine political science in a reflective, disciplined, critical way. It is primarily designed for entering Ph.D. students, but may be appropriate for undergraduate seniors considering graduate work in political science. We use basic concepts in the philosophy of science to explore a range of specific examples of research in the discipline with the aim of discerning more clearly what it means to say that social and political inquiry is scientific. The discussion covers the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of tools of empirical social science.
The goal of this course is to give students a comprehensive toolbox for reading and producing cutting-edge applied empirical research, with focus on the theory and practice behind causal inference in social sciences. We will cover treatment effects, experiments, panel data, differences-in-differences, instrumental variables, nonparametric regression, regression discontinuity, matching, synthetic control, and more. Students will read applied papers from both political science and economics, and write review reports examining research designs, identification strategies, and causal claims. They will also produce research proposals that will be presented in class. Applications will be taught with R.
This seminar will introduce you to classic as well as contemporary research in American politics. We will discuss the literature both in political institutions (e.g., Congress) and in political behavior (e.g., voting). By covering an array of topics in these areas, the course will provide a foundation for developing a comprehensive understanding of the field and the various directions in which it is now moving.
This course is the required field seminar for the comparative politics field of the Ph.D. program. Comparative politics is a field that attempts to develop and test theories that can be used to explain political events and patterns across and within political systems, especially nation-states outside the United States. The course is designed to introduce students to classic and contemporary works across a range of topic including: democracy, dictatorship and development; revolutions and violence; culture and social movements; parties and electoral systems; representation and accountability; institutions of governance and political economy. It will also introduce various methodological approaches and issues in the comparative field, including research design and case selection. The reading load is heavy and students are expected to make several presentations and lead discussion of readings, as well as to take two exams. Undergraduates may on enroll only with consent of the instructors.
This course examines the literature on conflict that has developed in the last decade. We will examine recent formal literature as well as the latest substantive (non-formal) literature on conflict. The course will help graduate students identify the broad direction of international conflict studies and will also permit graduate students to pursue topics or ideas of their own interest. To that end, we set aside two classes for "model building sessions" where students can explore approaches to formalize some of the ideas in the substantive literature, or explore extensions of the current formal literature. Students should have taken or be concurrently taking PSC 584 or have an equivalent knowledge of complete and incomplete information game theory.
Social networks pervade political and economic life. They shape how we acquire political knowledge, how we discover job opportunities, and how we shape and maintain norms. The multitude of ways that networks affect the world make it critical to understand how network structures impact behavior, which network structures are likely to emerge, and why we organize ourselves as we do. Drawing on a wide variety of fields, this course will review the literature, both theoretical and empirical, on social, economic, and political networks. Topics will include basic network structures, network formation, games on networks, learning, diffusion, and methods for network analysis.