The Political Theory field represents a broad range of perspectives on how to pursue political thinking in an era of rapid institutional change. Our department has great strengths in critical and democratic theory, and in American as well as European political thought. Across all of these topical inflections, we emphasize a substantive concern for how issues of globalization, modernization, and multiculturalism variously enable and constrain possibilities for political agency, rights, and citizenship in the present.
With the end of the Cold War, the world has grown more complex and interdependent. New issues like terrorism, currency crises, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and global warming provide fascinating research challenges. Globalization of production, of financial markets, and information systems has introduced powerful new dynamics into the international system. The International Relations (IR) faculty has a range of expertise that spans international history and diplomacy, international political economy, security studies, IR and formal theory. It also sustains research that uses a variety of methods: case studies, archival research, macro-historical analysis, formal modeling, game theory, and quantitative analysis.
The American Politics field makes use of a broad set of methodological approaches to study political behavior and institutions in the United States. Faculty research includes such areas as media effects, attitudes and opinions, voting behavior, political parties, and the political and constitutional development of nations. Members of the field foster discussion about contemporary work through the American Politics Workshop Series and occasional reading groups on topics of interest. The faculty encourages students to study a broad range of methodologies including historical analysis, survey research, formal mathematical modeling, and both lab and field experimentation.
Comparative Politics courses focus on the study and comparison of political processes in countries all over the world. Some Comparative classes deal with such specific topics as democratic transitions, political economy, globalization, political development, institutional design, political violence, and ethnic conflict; others concentrate on the similarities and differences in politics of particular regions and countries -- Europe, Russia, East or Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
Methods and Models
Grounded in popular introductory courses in Data Analysis and Game Theory, this field offers students the opportunity to learn techniques of statistical methods and mathematical modeling that have become the staple of political pollsters as well as electoral campaign strategists, public policy analysts, survey researchers, forecasters, and social scientists in general. Methods and modeling have applications in and can supplement research in nearly all other sub-fields of political science.
Race, Ethnicity, and Politics
REP is a hybrid field built around the background of racial and ethnic difference. Scholars study Native, African, Latino, and/or Asian Pacific Americans; racial and ethnic politics internationally; issues of race or ethnicity in social theory, public policy, and political history. Theoretical approaches to conceptions of race, empire, citizenship, as well as multiculturalism frame a common discussion toward understanding such modern phenomena as nation building, citizenship, social movements, ethnic conflict, immigration and a host of other political phenomena.