Current courses

Spring 2023
Professor Ahmed is currently on leave

Past courses

101: Introduction to Comparative Politics (undergraduate)

This course provides an introduction to some important themes of comparative political analysis, one of the four broad subfields of political science. It is designed to help students understand the building blocks of government and explore the political, social and economic phenomena that effect countries around the world, including our own. We will cover three centuries and five continents in order to develop an understanding of how the world we live in – one characterized by the rise of industrial nation states – came to be. Through critical comparative analysis we will examine the challenges of economic development, social transformation, and nation building.

231: Modern Political Thought (undergraduate)

This course will provide an overview of several themes of modern political thought. We will survey the works of major figures in the modern canon from the 17th through the 19th century, reading significant selections from many of their most important works.  In the process, we will explore more general themes and questions pertinent to political theory in the modern era, particularly focusing on the relationship of the individual to community, society, and state. We will consider the political forms that emerged out of those struggles, as well as the changed and distinctly "modern" conceptualizations of political theory concepts such as freedom, responsibility, justice, rights and obligation, as central categories for organizing moral and political life.

372: Democratic Institutions and Democratic Theory (undergraduate)

This course examines the structure and dynamics of different democratic institutions. In this process, we consider differences between parliamentary and presidential systems, between different electoral systems, and different systems for power-sharing such as federalism and consociationalism.  The goal of the course is to understand the workings of these institutions, the practical implications of particular institutional designs, and the normative justifications invoked to support them in different historical context.  Particular attention will be paid to the historical processes through which democratization emerged in the West, with comparisons to processes of political transformation in the Global South.

791AB: Political Inquiry (graduate)

Political scientists use a range of approaches, and hold a variety of methodological commitments. This course is designed to introduce students to the philosophical and epistemological underpinnings of different approaches. The aim of the course is to enable students to make more deeply informed judgments about the types of political science work that they encounter and undertake. Students will be encouraged to appreciate alternative approaches to political analysis, weigh their relative utility in answering questions of importance to them, and determine whether and how these different approaches might fruitfully be combined.This course provides an introduction to the logic of inquiry and research design in political science.  Specifically it reviews traditions in the philosophy of science and applies them to political science. The course is designed to help students design and pursue interesting research topics.

791N: Democratization (graduate)

This course focuses on the process of democratization in historical and comparative perspective. We will begin by examining different definitions and theories of democracy. We will then move on to discuss different approaches to understanding the emergence of democratic forms of government in the modern world in order to determine the basic dynamics of democratization. We will also consider patterns of democratization in different historical, social, and cultural context in order to assess and adjust our theoretical framework. One of the goals of the class will be to grapple with different definitions of democracy and to consider their application in different contexts. Other important issues we will discuss include democratic consolidation, political institutions, civil society, and the international environment. Finally, in the last week of the course will turn to the future prospects and challenges for democracy and democratization in countries around the world. Though the course is organized around different themes, a variety of illustrative cases will be discussed in detail throughout.

797 BB: Qualitative Methods (graduate)

This course covers key issues in the study and practice of qualitative methods.  While this is not a “how-to” class, it is motivated by the belief that the study of methodology must be accompanied by the practical application of those methods. The course is designed to allow you to examine various approaches and specifically to produce an awareness of the trade-offs involved when one selects one approach, method, technique, or type of evidence over others. After discussing various “meta-issues” regarding the nature of qualitative methods research, the course covers the ideal-typical and practical use of specific qualitative methods such as case-study, interviewing, historical research, ethnography, and discourse analysis. Examples come from social science research and speak directly to the development of qualitative methods within political science.