Comparative Politics, African Politics, Human Rights, Contentious Politics, Elections and Political Parties, Political Corruption, quantitative and qualitative research methods
Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 at Mississippi State University
Course Description: This course provides a broad overview of the comparative politics subfield, which involves the study of both differences and similarities between states over time and across the globe. By comparing countries from around the world we are able to leverage some insight into the “big questions” of the global political context, such as: What contributes to the emergence of democratic governance and why has this occurred for some countries, but not others, at various points in time? How do democracies differ, not only from non-democracies, but between one another? Why do some countries remain conflict-ridden while others are relatively peaceful? And how do we account for wealth disparities both within and across countries? This class proceeds with weekly readings associated with a different substantive topic each week. The readings most weeks will include a book chapter from the required course materials and a news or journal article to help illustrate the most important themes covered for the week. Students will be evaluated primarily based on within-class assignments and exams, with the occasional at-home writing assignment.
Spring 2024 at Mississippi State University &
Spring 2020 and Summer 2019 at Indiana University, Bloomington
Course Description: This course focuses on government-sponsored violations of human rights, such as civil liberties restrictions, torture, unlawful imprisonments, extrajudicial killings, and genocide. More specifically, in discussing the international primacy placed on human rights protection as a value, this course attempts to reconcile this tension between human rights in theory and in practice. Recognizing the state as both primary protector and principle violator of these rights, we wrestle with the both the limitations and possibilities for international action when addressing human rights violations. Broken into four distinct parts, part one focuses on the development of human rights as an international value by referencing some of the most egregious violations in recent history. Next, we will address the most important puzzle in understanding human rights abuses around the globe: If a state is meant to protect it’s citizens, why would leaders choose to repress them instead? We approach this question by discussing domestic factors that influence whether states are protectors or violators. Examining different economic, political, and social conditions around the world, we explore the primary factors that shape state incentives to harm and repress their own citizens. Shifting focus to international efforts to stop human rights abuses, we then discuss the institutions of the international human rights regime and the legal and practical limitations of these international bodies. Given these limitations, several other international efforts that may curb human rights abuses are discussed. Despite international aspirations to protect all citizens from abuse, mass violence continues across the globe. Therefore, the final part of this course focuses on what the international community can do to help rebuild society after these horrific abuses occur.
Summer 2021 at Indiana University Bloomington
Course Description: Competitive elections are considered an essential component of democratic governance. This is made even more evident by the fact that most countries in the world now hold some form of elections. However, it has become increasingly apparent over the past few decades that there are several ways elections can instead undermine democratic accountability, via fraud, vote-buying, intimidation and even widespread violence. This course examines a variety of determinants of electoral malpractice across elections in both emerging and established democracies, as well as the political consequences of such democratic erosion for peaceful transitions of power, effective governance, and the integrity of the electoral process itself. Recognizing this disconnect between how elections, and the rules governing their conduct, are meant to work in theory versus how they have actually worked in practice across emerging democracies, this course will help students understand how elections can create incentives among incumbent politicians to tilt the playing field in their favor through perverse and undemocratic means. We then proceed to investigate a growing number of challenges to free and fair elections among the established democracies of Europe and the United States, such as the rise of populism, misinformation and the roles of social media, and tribal politics.