This seminar is designed to serve five goals:
(1) To acquaint students with many of the leading theories within the field of comparative politics. Students will be made aware of the relevant literatures so that they will be able to connect their own research to broad disciplinary concerns. The weekly topics primarily center on dependent variables, and the readings are oriented toward leading theories (or proposed independent variables) that account for inter–polity or inter–temporal variations on the values of those dependent variables. However, in some cases readings focus on definitions of key concepts.
(2) To provide examples of how best to prepare work for future submission to journals and top university publishers. Papers from the leading journals in the field and books from top publishers are included in the syllabus. Students should also peruse these journals, section newsletters, and publisher lists on a regular basis, not only to keep up with trends in the field, but also to learn the styles and forms of contributions to comparative politics. This is the best way to learn about what Comparative Politics “is” and what the key debates in the subfield are.
(3) To introduce and make students aware of the implications of research strategies. The seminar will emphasize the point that methodologies in the discipline are diverse, and that these methods, once chosen, have considerable import for both topic choice and the range of findings.
(4) To develop among students critical reading, writing, collaboration, and presentation skills. Students will be asked to explain core concepts from the readings to the class, and will collaboratively work on short memos and presentations based on the readings. In addition, students will write an integrated paper connecting readings with their own research interests.
(5) To substantively introduce students to UW–Madison faculty in comparative politics. For more than half of the weeks, a guest faculty member will join the class discussion.