DPI415 Comparative Politics in Global Perspective
Pippa Norris DPI-415 www.pippanorris.com


John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
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Comparative Politics in Global Perspective

Spring 2010


  • The  syllabus for Spring 2010 is  now available for downloading in pdf.

  • See the updated class notes for the two downladable readings for Monday 1st Feb (instead of the Caramani chapter)

CONTACTS:  To email the professor for DPI-415, click here

To contact the course assistant: Simonida.Subotic@gmail.com

This course provides the analytical knowledge and practical skills to understand comparative politics worldwide.

It addresses a wide range of policy-relevant issues:  What are the key features of democracies and autocracies, and how can regimes in South Africa, Nigeria and Iran be classified? What is the appropriate balance of powers between the president and the Congress in Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico? What are the prospects for building stable states and democratic governance in Iraq and Afghanistan? How could human rights be strengthened through constitutional reforms in Russia and Belarus? Is traditional political activism eroding in the U.S., UK, France and Germany? How do government structures shape the delivery of economic and welfare policies in India and China?

The course covers these questions and many others by utilizing the methods and techniques of comparative politics.  You will learn about polities worldwide as well as thereby enriching and deepening your understanding of your own nation. The orientation is problem and reform focused. API415 analyzes (i) the nature of comparative politics (ii) processes of state formation and the classification of regimes types, (iii) the structure of political institutions, (iv) the role of political actors, and (v) processes of governance performance. API-415 reviews the leading research literature to understand the theoretical concepts and empirical literature on each topic and then compares case-studies to apply these ideas to particular nations.  Evaluation involves workgroup case-study presentations as well as three individual reports.

The course will provide invaluable skills and knowledge for anyone seeking to develop familiarity with the major issues in comparative politics and the practical skills in analyzing countries around the globe.   In the age of globalization, cross-national insights into politics are invaluable for a wide range of potential careers, whether working for international agencies, multilateral organizations, non-profit NGOs, international corporations, or national governments.

Copyright 2004 Pippa Norris, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138. www.pippanorris.com

Last updated 01/29/2010