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Comparative and Regional Studies | SIS

Courses

Comparative Theory | Comparative Economics | Methods | Regional Courses: Africa | Regional Courses: Americas | Regional Courses: Asia | Regional Courses: Europe | Regional Courses: Middle East | Regional Courses: Russia and Central Eurasia | Regional Courses: Islamic Studies | Thematic Courses

Comparative Theory

SIS 672: Theories of Comparative and International Studies 

Sample Syllabus 1 | Sample Syllabus 2

Unlike the dominant tradition which divides comparative and international politics into separate areas of inquiry, this course bridges these two fields. Includes the rise of the modern state and its relation to historical capitalism and the nation; interactions between the state and the market; democratization and civil society; social movements; and global culture. Usually offered every fall.

Comparative Economics

SIS 587: Globalization and Global Governance

Sample Syllabus

This course examines the power and governance of globalization. It explores issues including what is globalization, its origins, and underlying causes; how states respond to globalizing processes; have states and international organizations established rules for controlling these forces or are they out of control, and are alternatives possible; and the major challenges and forms of resistance to globalization. Also, how social movements such as labor unions, women's groups, environmentalists, and human rights activists are responding to shifts in global markets and cultures, and to what extent anyone is in charge of this set of processes. Usually offered every fall.

SIS 589: Global Political Economy

Sample Syllabus

This course is concerned with the scope of political economy. The focus is on the origins of the modern global political economy and its institutional structure. It examines contemporary issues in political economy, using the division of labor as an organizing concept, and explores the prospects for global restructuring at the turn of the century. Usually offered every spring. 

SIS 673: Comparative Political Economy

Sample Syllabus 1 | Sample Syllabus 2

Political economy is examined by comparing countries and regions. Considers the possibilities and limits of transposing models of state and society from one region to another. Focus is on the division of labor, class and identity, the state, industrialization strategies, technological policy, cultural formation, and identity. Usually offered every term.

Methods

SIS 600: Statistics, Research Design, and Research Methods

Sample Syllabus

Introduction to research design and research methods with particular focus on quantitative measurement, statistical analysis, and computer use for international relations research. Usually offered every term.

SIS 680: Qualitative Methods and Methodology

Sample Syllabus

This course examines three leading qualitative approaches to the production of knowledge about world politics: comparative case studies, participant observation, and the analysis of social networks. It considers theoretical and application issues, as well as reading and discussing exemplary work in each of these different approaches. The course provides students with a "toolkit" for the analysis of questions and issues not amenable to quantification. 

Regional Courses: Africa

SIS 519: African Political Institutions (Africa Core Seminar)

Sample Syllabus

This new seminar-style course introduces students to the themes, debates, and basic techniques of comparative institutional analysis. It examines classic readings on presidentialism/parliamentarism, party systems, electoral systems, and constitutional design alongside new research that applies institutional models to Africa. The course culminates in an empirical investigation of the relationship between particular institutional combinations and outcomes such as better representation, less corruption, or improved macroeconomic performance. Note: Non-traditional meeting times.

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics cover key themes in comparative and regional studies including politics, economy, identity, regional security, civil society, governance, foreign policy, democratization, and globalization in African countries. 

SIS 579: Political Economy of Africa

Sample Syllabus

This course provides an in-depth overview and analysis of both the economic and political factors which have helped to condition Africa's position within the global economic system. Political independence by the various African states launched into the global economic system a group of the world's poorest, weakest, and most artificial states. How have such states managed to survive politically and to shape their economies and to what extent is their survival now threatened by the global economic meltdown? Are the African countries competing successfully within the world's economic system? The course comprehensively treats the interplay between politics and economics as African states attempt to effectively manage their affairs within an era of globalization and also identifies patterns of change, examines constraints, and give careful attention to some of the processes that influence economic policy outcomes. 

SIS 676: International Relations of Africa

Sample Syllabus

This course provides an in-depth overview of the historical and contemporary interstate relations in Africa and situates Africa within world affairs. Political independence by the various African states launched into international politics a group of the world's poorest, weakest, and most artificial states. How have such states managed to survive and to what extent is their survival now threatened? This course comprehensively treats the interplay between domestic and international politics while also analyzing the efforts by African states to manage their external relations amid seismic shifts in the internal, regional, and global environments. The class also identifies patterns of change, examines constraints, and gives careful attention to some of the processes that influence policy outcomes. Meets with SIS-419 011.

Regional Courses: Americas

SIS 519: Political Economy of the Southern Cone

Sample Syllabus

This course explores the evolution and interaction of political institutions, societal demand making, and economic and social policy in South America over the last three decades. The focus will be on three countries in the "Southern Cone" area – Argentina, Brazil, and Chile – as well as Venezuela. Major topics include market liberalization and international economic integration, the stubbornness of poverty and inequality, free trade and the surge in agro-export industries, social policy expansion and new targeted anti-poverty programs, corruption and clientelism, crime and violence, civil society and policy innovation geared toward enhancing citizen participation and "deepening democracy," and the politics of the Left Turn.

SIS 577: International Relations in the Americas

Sample Syllabus

Recent and contemporary interstate relations in Latin America and the place of Latin America in world affairs.

SIS 676: Americas in Comparative Perspective (Americas Core Seminar)

Sample Syllabus

This course examines Latin American development in a historical and conceptual perspective. These include the origins of import-substitution, the rise and fall of military regimes, the adoption of democratic forms of political organization, the introduction of sweeping market-oriented reforms, the persistence of political and social violence, and the growing importance of global issues, trade and finance as much as democracy and human rights. Country cases are introduced in order to understand the fundamentals of the histories of particular nations, as well as to explain the significance of competing theoretical frameworks that have shaped the debate in the field. Meets with SIS-419 003.

Topics vary by section; may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics cover key themes in comparative and regional studies including politics, economy, identity, regional security, civil society, governance, foreign policy, democratization, and globalization in Latin American countries. 

SIS 676: Race and Ethnicity in the Americas

Sample Syllabus

From the birth of the multitude of nations in the Americas to the present, race and ethnicity have been critical arenas to social struggle. Not a single nation in the Americas has escaped the contradictions and divisions that racial inequality and subjugation have generated although there have been a very wide number of strategies employed by both states and marginalized racial and ethnic groups to address these concerns. Meets with SIS-419 018.

Regional Courses: Asia

SIS 655: East Asia in Transition (Asia Core Seminar; alternates with Southeast Asia, U.S. & Regional Powers)

Sample Syllabus

This is a course in the field of comparative and regional studies designed for graduate and advanced undergraduate students to conduct highly developed research on cross-country comparative study. As an interdisciplinary course, this seminar will introduce a variety of perspectives as analytical tools for research. Concentrating on East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea), it also discusses Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as the United States. We will first familiarize ourselves with the basic settings and general trends in the Asia-Pacific region including major powers and local powers, focusing on the economic and political transitions, and international relations in the region. Then we will move to other perspectives, such as economic strategy, social dynamics, international security, political culture, politics, democratization, and foreign policy analyses, to conduct theoretically informed empirical research.

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics cover key themes in comparative and regional studies including politics, economy, identity, regional security, civil society, governance, foreign policy, democratization, and globalization in Asian and Southeast Asian countries. 

SIS 676: U.S.-China Relations

Sample Syllabus

This course begins with an overview of U.S.-China relations from historical and theoretical perspectives, providing the background necessary to comprehend the domestic foundations of foreign policy. It then examines politics and foreign policies of China and the United States, and interactions between the two powers. Includes security, economic, and diplomatic relations as well as their impact on international relations in Asia-Pacific including Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia. The course also introduces a variety of perspectives as analytical tools for research, and analyzes significant controversies as a way of participating in the field's theoretical and policy debates. Meets with SIS-419 047. 

SIS 676: Southeast Asia, U.S. & Regional Powers

Sample Syllabus

This course examines the roles and impact of the United States, Japan and China, and other regional powers on the transformation of security and economic frameworks in East and Southeast Asia from the end of the Second World War to the present. The security analysis treats developments during the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and issues in the post-Cold War era, particularly those pertaining to militant Islamic movements and non-traditional/human security challenges such as transnational labor flows, trafficking in persons, environmental degradation and natural disasters. The economic dimension highlights the impact of globalization on the region, and the emergence and evolution of regional economic cooperation. A major theme is the manner in which growing Chinese political influence and trade initiatives in recent years have impacted on long-standing American security and commercial interests, as well as on Japanese economic interests in the region. Meets with SIS-419 014. 

SIS 676: Nuclear North Korea

Sample Syllabus

This seminar examines the two nuclear crises in the Korean Peninsula, one that was averted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the United States signing the Geneva Accord in 1994, and the other ongoing since November 2002. The course compares different strategic visions to deal with the nuclear proliferation and investigates the missed opportunities and new challenges underlying the current multilateral engagement with North Korea through the Six-Party Talks. Particular emphasis is placed on the roots of the crises inherited from the unsettled colonial legacy in the Korean peninsula as the pivotal geopolitical area in modern history where great powers collided. The nuclear crises are also used as rich test grounds for theories of comparative politics, strategic studies, and international politics. Meets with SIS-419 005. 

Regional Courses: Europe

SIS 629: Comparative European Politics (Europe Core Seminar)

Sample Syllabus

This course examines the major political, economic, and social issues shaping contemporary Europe. The first portion of the course covers the concepts and theoretical approaches that make up the analytical toolkit for understanding and analyzing European politics. The second part covers the overarching themes of European politics, including state formation, governments and institutions, political parties and elections, welfare state development and reform, and European integration. The final segment consists of country and issue case studies as opportunities to apply the theoretical, methodological, and analytical tools, and looks at lessons that can be learned from the diverse ways European societies have answered the basic questions of economic, social, and political organization confronting all societies. Meets with SIS-419 002. 

SIS 676: Race and Ethnicity in Europe

Sample Syllabus

From the birth of the multitude of nations in Europe to the present, race and ethnicity have been critical arenas of social struggle and debate. Not a single nation in Europe has escaped the contradictions and divisions that racial and ethnic inequality have generated although there have been a very wide number of strategies employed by both states and marginalized racial and ethnic groups to address these concerns. This course examines the theoretical, historic and contemporary context of these movements, government policies, and state actions around these concerns. Meets with SIS-419 010. 

SIS 676: Crime, Immigration, Race in U.S. and Europe

Sample Syllabus

Most prisons in Europe and the United States are filled with men and women, or descendants of men and women, from countries that were once the colonial possessions of the countries where they now are imprisoned. In the United States, where twenty five percent of the world's prisoners are housed, many are descendants of slaves. This course looks at the dynamics of race, immigration, crime, policing, and criminal justice in Europe and the United States and questions such as how old colonial relationships are reproduced inside the cities of the global North and why the criminal justice system in many of these countries is so skewed. Meets with SIS-419 039.

Regional Courses: Middle East

SIS 676: Comparative Politics of MENA (Middle East Core Seminar)

Sample Syllabus

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics cover key themes in comparative and regional studies including politics, economy, identity, regional security, civil society, governance, foreign policy, democratization, and globalization in Middle Eastern countries. 

SIS 676: Islamic Political Movements

Sample Syllabus

The aim of this course is to recognize the great variety of groups attempting to integrate Islam into modern politics, and to gain a nuanced understanding of the political contexts which shaped their emergence. The course proceeds chronologically, exploring the crisis that emerged in Islamic political identity with the end of the Ottoman caliphate and the imposition of colonial rule in Muslim lands. It then analyzes the rise of Islamic opposition movements to secular nationalist states and finally the creation of global Islamic networks, born through Western immigration and jihad in Afghanistan. Although historical in organization, the focus is squarely on understanding the political forces and organizations shaping politics in Muslim countries and the world today. Meets with SIS-419 013. 

SIS 676: Oil, Islam, and Politics in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf

Sample Syllabus

The September 11th attack, the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the recent oil boom focused increasing attention to the strategically important region of the Arab Gulf. The significance of Saudi Arabia to global terrorism and Dubai to global markets demands greater attention be paid to the political dynamics of these states. Meanwhile, the past decade has seen the Arab states of the Gulf experimenting with new means of broadening political participation and renegotiating state relations with private business. This course surveys the domestic and international pressures for these actions to assess both the potential for and implications of reform in the Arab Gulf states. By building an analytic framework based on the nexus of economic, social, religio-political, and geo-strategic forces at work in the Gulf, students are able to recognize the different choices made by each Gulf state, and to address the broader consequences of the global war on terror, unrest in Iraq and Iran, and the oil windfall and credit crunch in the Gulf. Meets with SIS-419 007.

Regional Courses: Russia and Central Eurasia

SIS 661: Civil Society, Markets, and Russian State (Russia and Eurasia Core Seminar)

Sample Syllabus

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics cover key themes in comparative and regional studies including politics, economy, identity, regional security, civil society, governance, foreign policy, democratization, and globalization in Russia and Central Eurasian countries. 

SIS 676: U.S.-Russia Post Cold War Relations

Sample Syllabus

This course examines recent history and the current state of relations between the United States and the Russian Federation, focusing on enduring themes, ideas, and strategic cultures of each country in order to develop a deeper understanding of the existing tensions and future tendencies. The course covers issues of nuclear arms control, non-proliferation, expansion of NATO, trade relations, energy and environmental security, regime change, and human rights. Conflicts over Kosovo, Chechnya, and most recently Georgia are analyzed in their historical context. The course emphasizes the role of ideas, leaders, and empathy in international relations. Meets with SIS-419 054. 

SIS 676: Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus: Borderlands Between Europe and Eurasia

Sample Syllabus

Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova lie in a strategic region between two integration and modernization projects: European - associated with NATO, the EU and other international organizations (Council of Europe, OSCE) - and Eurasia - which Russia understands as its zone of privileged interests and to which it exports managed (sovereign) democracy and Sovietization of the security forces. This course examines how the three countries have dealt with this competition between Europe and Eurasia in different ways, depending on their inherited nationality problems and regionalism, and the comparative strength of pro-Western and pro-Russian forces. The course investigates domestic, political, and nationality questions; foreign policy orientations; relations with NATO, U.S. and the EU; the influence of Russia; and the successes and failures of reintegration of the borderlands into Eurasia. Meets with SIS-419 013. 

SIS 676: Energy and Security in Europe and Central Eurasia

Sample Syllabus

This course explores an important driver of international relations and national security, the connection between energy and security. Europe is a large and growing energy market, increasingly depending on imported resources. The course provides a strategic overview of European energy security, the current and potential future role for Eurasian energy supplies, as well as different scenarios for long-term energy solutions.

Regional Courses: Islamic Studies

SIS 515: Islamic Peace Paradigms

Sample Syllabus

The idea of peace is deeply embedded in the religious vision of Islam, but ideas for achieving peace have differed. This course explores the interpretive foundations, history, and practice of four major Islamic paradigms: tradition, reformism (islah), renewalism (tajdid), and Sufism (tasawwuf). The origins, value structure, and methodology of each paradigm are examined in light of the challenges facing contemporary Islamic societies.

SIS 519: Islam and Democracy

Sample Syllabus

This course considers how the broad categories of "Islam" and "democracy" can intersect in contemporary world politics. After laying a historical foundation, questions of Islam and democracy are examined in the context of Islamist parties vying for power through elections, self-proclaimed Islamic States, contemporary Muslim democracies, and Muslim states grappling with democracy as a result of Western occupations. The course also highlights a variety of Muslim perspectives on the topic of democracy. 

SIS 519: Human Rights and Islam

Sample Syllabus

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this course considers the different ways in which invocations of Islam and questions of human rights converge in the Muslim world. In addition to an overview of prevailing human rights conditions, the course examines the ways Islam and the human rights come to be formulated as compatible or incompatible, or somewhere in between. Students become familiar with the spectrum of Muslim perspectives on the international human rights framework and its applicability to the Muslim world. Particular attention is paid to the social and political dynamics behind differing views of human rights in the Muslim world and how these dynamics are in flux as a result of the wave of protest and change sweeping the Middle East. The course concludes with several contemporary case studies including human rights in the Egyptian revolution/post-revolution, Islamic feminism in Iran, the impact of the War on Terror on views of human rights in the Muslim world, and human rights under occupation in Iraq. 

SIS 619: Dialogue or Clash of Civilizations 

Sample Syllabus

After September 11, 2001, scholars and commentators analyzed our world as divided by those who believe that the “Clash of Civilizations” was predictable and those who still held to the idea that a Dialogue of Civilizations was inevitable. In light of these two contradictory points of view, this course asks the following questions: What impact do these perspectives have on international affairs? What is the role of religion within these emerging discourses? And how are we to relate an impartial understanding of the Divine to the violence we often see on our television screens?

We will explore the unity of faith in the diversity of culture, the meeting points of groups within cultures, and the sustainability of economics. We will look at how an understanding of civilizations in all their multiple-aspects can lend to a more harmonious existence in the 21st century. The exploration of these questions and issues will be aided by standard literature as well as guest lectures by some eminent speakers and authorities in the field who are already confirmed. 

Thematic Courses

SIS 519: Political Violence

Sample Syllabus

In the past century, more than four times as many people have died at the hands of their own government than have died in all the wars combined. Yet state violence has been understudied. In this class, we will look at the politics of collective violence. We will look at the actions of specialists in violence, such as police and military, as well as those of ordinary men, who under particular circumstances engage in ethnic cleansing, genocide or terrorism. We will pay particular attention to the social relations and micro-dynamics of violence, and context in which men commit acts of extraordinary cruelty, engage in altruistic acts of heroism or silently watch from the sidelines.

SIS 519: Comparative Social Movements 

Sample Syllabus

Examines a broad range of civil rights, revolutionary, and pro-democracy movements in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and the United States. Students develop a comprehensive theory about social movements in order to classify them and develop predictive models about their emergence, shape, and outcome. 

SIS 542: Human and Global Security

Sample Syllabus

This course examines developments in and ways of thinking about security since the end of the bi-polar world order. The course considers ways of thinking about security other than through the national security framework; works towards an understanding of non-military threats to human life, communities, societies, and cultures; examines the intersection of globalism and new forms of security provision; examines the impact of organized crime; assesses the scope and consequences of light weapons proliferation, especially for developing countries; and analyzes forms of involvement in wars.