Comparative Politics Field Seminar PSC 350/550 is the required field seminar for the comparative politics field of the Ph.D. program. Comparative politics seeks to develop and test theories that can be used to explain political events and patterns across political systems, largely, but not exclusively, nation-states. In American political science this has largely come to mean description and explanation of politics in countries outside the United States. This course is designed to introduce students to classic and contemporary works across a range of subfields of comparative politics, 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. Undergraduates will be permitted to enroll only with consent of the instructors. Syllabus here.
Comparative Politics Dissertation Group Formed in 2015, this group provides a monthly forum for ABD students in Comparative Politics to present their research to peers.
Comparative Politics Workshop Formed in 2008, this workshop provides a forum for faculty and students in comparative politics to present their research. Click here for calendar.
Resources For an outstanding list of resources for PhD students and young faculty, link to Professor Brendan Nyhan's page.
Balancing Trade-offs and Leveraging Experience (with G. Bingham Powell, Jr.) The overarching goal of graduate school is to turn smart students into independent scholars, capable of producing original contributions that are relevant to a defined community or communities of scholars. Ph.D. education in comparative politics has traditionally comprised three stages: course work, fieldwork, and dissertation. As the history and breadth of the field grows and the available analytic tools multiply, the potential scope of each stage expands. Graduate programs face a particularly hard trade-off between requiring course sequences that adequately engage the student in the exciting problems of the field, providing the tools to contribute to it, and still leaving students enough time for creativity to flourish. Link to full newsletter here.
PSCI/INTR 260: Democratic Erosion Politics in the new millennium belies the idea that any democracy is ever fully safe. Still, we are only beginning to grasp the multitude of ways in which a democracy may die. This upper-level undergraduate seminar is based on a cross-university collaboration, Democratic Erosion, which is aimed at evaluating threats to democracy both in the United States and abroad. Importantly, the class is not intended as a partisan critique, but rather teaches students how to analyze and help address the challenges of democratic erosion. Syllabus here.
PSC 242: Research Practicum in U.S. Criminal Justice Reform (with Stuart Jordan) This course offers students the opportunity to work as part of a research collaborative between the University of Rochester and a non-governmental organization devoted to criminal justice reform. The organization, Measures For Justice, is creating the first database ever created to track the performance of the thousands of county-level criminal justice systems that process most criminal cases in the United States. Through hands-on research work under the joint supervision of UofR faculty and Measures For Justice staff, students in the course will learn powerful social science research skills, gain insight into the key challenges facing the U.S. criminal justice system, and contribute directly to data-driven policymaking. Syllabus here.
PSC/IR 261: Latin American Politics This course provides an introduction to political institutions and institutional reform in contemporary Latin America. The central theme of the course will be to focus on the emergence and functioning of key political institutions in Latin America, including the presidency, the legislature, the system of electoral rules, political parties, the judiciary, and the bureaucracy. The course will draw on a broad range of theoretical perspectives to analyze institutional choice and performance. In addition, the course will consider competing definitions of institutions, evaluate the trade-offs posed by institutional choice, and consider the prospects for institutional reform in the region. Syllabus here.
PSC/IR 263: Comparative Law and Courts This course examines courts from a comparative perspective. Although long a central focus of American politics, increasingly courts have become important political institutions around the world. Among the questions that we will examine throughout the course include: Why are some judiciaries more independent than others? What effect does independence have on economic development and democratic consolidation? What role do formal institutional guarantees play in shaping the role of courts? How accountable are judges to the public or elected officials? What factors account for judicial decision-making? Taking the U.S. experience as a starting point, the course will explore answers to these questions by drawing on the recent literature on judicial politics from Europe, Russia, Africa, and Latin America. Syllabus here.
PSC 391: Directed Reading/Independent Study or Research Opportunities Contact Professor Helmke.