International Intervention and the Use of Force (Fall 2017, Fall 2016, undergraduate)

This course examines the politics of armed international intervention. As the most powerful state in the international system and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the United States is uniquely positioned both to influence international debates over intervention and to deploy military force unilaterally. The course therefore examines the politics of international intervention primarily through an American lens.

The aims of the course are threefold. First, we will examine the politics around the decision to intervene with military force in another country. We will discuss different domestic and international determinants of the decision to use force. We will also consider different justifications for military intervention abroad. Second, we will assess the record of international intervention in several post-Cold War cases. We will investigate the degree to which intervention achieved the stated aims of the mission and investigate the factors that explain success or failure. Third, throughout the course we will consider the proper criteria for thinking about when the United States should intervene with military force in other countries.

This is a lecture course aimed at advanced undergraduates. There are no prerequisites, but POL 240 (International Relations) is highly recommended.

International Policy Responses to State Fragility (Fall 2016, Fall 2015, graduate)

International policymakers have increasingly recognized that state fragility poses serious challenges to development, security, and human well-being. Consequently, the international community has experimented with a variety of “policy levers” to stabilize and strengthen the world’s fragile states. How well have these policy responses worked? What are the merits and tradeoffs of these responses?

This seminar examines international policy responses to the problem of state fragility. The course is organized into two parts. The first part investigates the causes of state fragility and state weakness. Recognizing that addressing the problem of state fragility requires an understanding of its root causes, we ask why are some states strong and some states weak. We will discuss the emergence of the modern state and investigate the origins of political order and political decay. The second part of the course examines a set of international policy responses to three types of deficiencies that often characterize weak or fragile states. These responses include armed intervention, shared sovereignty arrangements, foreign aid, and democracy promotion. We will assess the degree to which these responses have addressed the core state fragility problem, and consider the benefits and tradeoffs of each approach.

Junior Workshop: International Influences on Domestic Politics (Fall 2017, Fall 2016, undergraduate)

This junior workshop examines the efforts of international actors – states, international organizations, and transnational and international non-governmental organizations – to influence or alter the behavior of other countries toward their own citizens. International actors marshal a wide variety of tools to influence domestic policy and politics: foreign aid, advocacy and social pressure, economic sanctions, international law, armed intervention, direct service provision, and local training and capacity building, among others. Readings in the workshop will focus on research articles that seek to understand when and why international actors engage in efforts to reshape politics in other countries and assess the effects of those efforts. We will use these readings as examples of quality research in political science, focusing in particular on the types of research design challenges confronting these studies and the researchers’ effectiveness in addressing those challenges.

A wide range of research questions on the politics of international intervention can be pursued in this workshop. Some examples include: What explains where international non-governmental organizations choose to work? Why do some countries give more official development aid than others? Under what conditions do peacekeeping missions reduce civilian casualties? Do economic sanctions reduce human rights abuses? When and why do foreign powers intervene to stop civil wars? Why does the American public support intervention in some humanitarian crises but not others?

Junior Workshop: Statebuilding (Fall 2015, undergraduate)

This junior workshop examines the politics of statebuilding. Statebuilding refers to the development of a political organization – the state – capable of exercising effective authority over a national territory. Readings in the workshop will focus on research articles on statebuilding, and we will assess these articles in terms of their research designs and the persuasiveness of their findings. We will also discuss the process of conducting research in political science, including how to articulate and refine a research question, develop testable hypotheses, and collect and analyze data.

A wide range of research questions on the international and domestic politics of statebuilding can be pursued in this workshop. Some examples include: Do international statebuilding missions produce stable, functional states? What explains where international non-governmental organizations choose to work? Under what conditions does foreign aid strengthen recipient states? How did the colonial experience affect the post-independence trajectory of state development? When and why do foreign powers intervene to stop civil wars? Are authoritarian leaders better statebuilders than democratic leaders?