student research resources
A collection of tools, links, materials, and other resources for students who want to conduct empirical political science research.
pol210 introduction to political behavior (fall)
A gateway course for the study of political science, this course covers the basics of political behavior, with a focus on rational choice and institutional and quantitative approaches to political action. The substantive area of interest is political participation.
pol330 the u.s. congress
fall 2003, spring 2005, spring 2007, spring 2012
This course will examine the development and current state of America's preeminent political institution: the U.S. Congress. We will discuss the "environment" of Congress in two main ways: external (contextual and electoral) and internal (institutional rules and procedures). The carriers of Congressional change turn out to be, not surprisingly, the members. Since Congress makes its own rules, we will talk about the institution of Congress as a product of the goals and motivations of the members. These two views of Congress—a 200 year old institution and a noisy aggregate of members—are the centerpiece of this course. Prerequisites: Political Science 210.
pol333 elections, american style (spring)
Elections are fundamental to democratic government, but there seem to be as many variations in electoral institutions, party systems, and campaign styles as there are democratic societies. In this course, we review the expansive literature covering elections, electoral rules, and electoral behavior in the United States. The course focuses on three main areas. First, we review electoral institutions, including laws, regulations, and the current state of electoral reforms. Second, we will survey the campaign literature, likely focusing on the presidency. Finally, we will examine individual vote choice — why individuals choose to vote, how they integrate information from the political environment, and how they cast their ballot. Students should be comfortable with analytical and quantitative material, since it makes up such a large portion of the literature in this area. Prerequisites: Political Science 210 and one upper-division course in the social sciences.
pol415 junior seminar (spring)
This course focuses on preparing students for political science research, particularly the junior qualifying examination and subsequent thesis. Topics include research design, research methodology, shaping and framing a research question, locating data, and presenting results. All areas of inquiry in political science will be given ample coverage. While focused on students who are writing their junior qualifying examination in political science, the course may be helpful to students in the first semester of their thesis research. Prerequisites: junior or senior status in political science, or consent of instructor.
pol377 public opinion
Coming to grips with public opinion is, in the words of one analyst, akin to coming to grip with the Holy Ghost. In this course, we attempt to survey the sprawling literature dealing with American public opinion. We begin with the question I always ask: “So what?” There are two parts to this question. First, what are our theoretical notions of citizenship in a democracy, and in society generally. What should citizens know? Second, what is the role of public opinion in a representative democracy, and how does that differ from other governmental systems? Next, we turn to the empirical evidence, hopefully always keeping in mind our main questions. What do people think and know? Can public opinion play the role we expect of it? If not, what function does it seem to have in American democracy?
pol420 the demise of liberalism?
spring 2005 (as pol407), spring 2006
This course addresses one of the most important questions in contemporary American (and worldwide) political debate: is post-war liberalism dead, to be replaced by free-market, small government, laissez faire conservatism?