Pol 280: Research Methods. Wake Forest University. Fall 2021

In this course, we ask and answer questions about what political science is and what it can accomplish with a focus on the ways in which political scientists collect, analyze and present quantitative and qualitative data. Methodology is the analytic frame a scholar uses to organize her/his/their approach to inquiry; it is often implicit, but nonetheless important. Methods are the specific tools used (i.e. interviews, process-tracing, statistics, etc.) to learn about the world. Together, methodology and method distinguish the study of politics from punditry as a disciplined, transparent, knowledge-building endeavor ensuring the work we collectively produce is grounded in well-reasoned theories, carefully collected data, and rigorously conducted analyses. The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the research process and a range of basic analytical techniques necessary to understand and conduct quantitative and qualitative research.

Pol 210: Political Parties and Identity Politics. Wake Forest University. Fall 2021

This course covers the ways in which groups are represented in the American political party system; how inequality and marginalization are often entrenched and reinforced through political parties; and how political parties shape the mobilization of voters. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, class, and religion form the basis of what has come to be called “identity politics” by many pundits and politicians. We will engage an array of work in political science and other disciplines to learn about theories of representation, political power and collective action, and the structure and function of political parties, including how rules and reforms affect representation. We will also examine groups and identities as political and analytical concepts. We will explore how scholars have applied these theoretical ideas about democracy, political parties, and representation to the empirical study of group politics in the United States. Readings will cover a variety of topics including the two-party system, interest group politics and social movements, group political behavior, partisanship, and institutionalized inequalities. The primary learning objective is to build connections between foundational concepts, political history, and contemporary politics to better understand how American political parties shape and are shaped by “identity politics,” and how inequalities persist in a nation that idealizes the notion of equality.

Also taught as Pol 3310 Topics in American Politics: Political Parties, Representation, and Identity. University of Minnesota. Spring 2021.

Course Research Consultant, Pol 341 Experimental Methods in Politics (Ali Valenzuela). Princeton University. Fall 2018.

The use of experiments to study and influence politics is widespread and growing, partly because they can give conclusive results not possible with surveys or other data. No longer confined to the lab, social scientists and political operatives use new technology to conduct experiments on thousands of voters in real elections. Large-scale political experiments have been conducted on Facebook, by mail and telephone, but is it ethical to influence politics in pursuit of new knowledge? What have experiments taught us about voting, race, and representation in America? This class will cover these and other aspects of using experiments in politics.

Assistant Instructor, Pol 220 American Politics (Paul Frymer and Sarah Staszak). Princeton University. Fall 2017.

This course examines the development, structure, and function of the American political system.  It is designed to introduce students to the study of American political institutions, processes, political behavior, and policymaking.  Readings for the course will examine how the nation’s government has developed over its history; how its founding ideals are entrenched in governing institutions; and how these institutions—and other forces—shape political behavior.  Throughout, we will examine the key features that constitute the American political system: The Constitution and the American political tradition, ideology, federalism, Congress, the president, bureaucracy, courts, political parties and elections, the media, civil rights and liberties, interest groups, and social movements.

Assistant Instructor, Pol 318 Law and Society (Sarah Staszak). Princeton University. Spring 2017.

In this course we will examine the place of law in political and social life, emphasizing the role of the judiciary as a distinctive governing institution.  All societies face disputes that must be resolved; but in the United States in particular, disputes are frequently and characteristically resolved through resort to courts and judges, who are part of a political order grounded in the rule of law.  American courts have always been active in resolving disputes, but this activity escalated dramatically in the 20th century, with more actors approaching the judiciary with an ever-widening range of complaints; with courts themselves playing a broader role in policymaking and regulation; and with a dramatic (and continuing) growth in professional legal organizations, public interest law groups, government legal services, foundations, and litigants.  Additionally, government actors regularly look to and rely on the courts to settle questions of politics and policy.  In total, more individuals and groups now look to the courts to settle more types of disputes than ever before. This course examines the role of law, courts, and legal actors in practice.  It is concerned with the structure of the judicial system in the U.S.; the variety of actors (beyond just judges) that constitute and interact with legal institutions; how legal change happens; the role that judicial institutions play in politics; and whether and how the courts are effective contributors to social and policy change.  The readings center on issues of whether the law is separable from politics, how the judiciary has evolved and expanded in its form and function over time, whether it protects those that it purports to serve, and why we look to the courts to settle political and policy questions to begin with.

Grader. Junior Research Plenary (Nolan McCarty and Alisha Holland). Princeton University. Fall 2016.

This is a required course for all junior undergraduates who are majoring in politics. The course introduces students to the fundamentals of research design and hypothesis testing in order to conduct original research for their junior independent research projects and senior theses. The course covers the basics of the research process.

Topics covered:

1. Independent and dependent variables, hypotheses and causality 

2. Comparative case method and selection bias

3. Process-tracing, path dependencies and mechanisms

4. Conceptualization, operationalization and measurement

5. Probability, sampling and quantitative inference