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Welcome to Intro to Comparative Politics!   Current Syllabus

Broadly, this course asks: What explains variation in institutional and economic development across countries? Scholars have proposed paths toward democracy and suggested that democracy facilitates economic development within states. The end of the Cold War seemed to affirm for some that Democracy would usher in order and peace, both within and across states. Yet, autocratic and mixed regimes have been surprisingly durable, with few new, stable democracies entering the international system.

In this course, we use cross-national case studies and qualitative methods to evaluate these claims, deepening our understanding of the factors which motivate particular forms of state development. We explore institutional and economic efforts to maintain order, while also examining challenges to this order and how resulting civil conflict, human rights violations, and repression alter lasting prospects for domestic and international peace.

This course includes two capstone assignments:

  • A state design activity demanding close attention to the relationship between governance and economic development (this design is then incorporated into a bespoke map as the setting for a class simulation)

  • A research proposal requiring a comparative analysis of two countries using analytical methods to answer a research question

Artwork by Erin K. Little

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