International relations; civil war; political violence and mass killing; environmental politics; international security; quantitative research methods
Graduate Classes Taught
International Relations: Empirical Approaches in Civil War Research (IU 2022)
In recent decades, empirical research on civil war and political violence has made remarkable strides. Fueled by the availability of ever more detailed datasets, researchers have deployed both imported and original methodologies to explain and predict different types of violence and their intensities. This seminar will survey some of these developments, exploring empirical evidence regarding the origins and dynamics of civil wars and political violence. Emphasis will be placed not only on understanding and critiquing the substantive insights generated by this research, but also the underlying methodologies deployed in their support. Assigned readings, class discussions, pre-prepared questions, and replication and writing assignments are structured to ensure that you will achieve these objectives. It is hence important that you complete all the readings each week, in addition to completing all assignments in a timely manner.
International Relations: Civil War and Political Violence (IU 2020)
Civil and proxy wars have been the dominant forms of conflict since the end of World War II – depending on standards of measurement, between 110 and 260 civil wars have been fought since the end of World War II, compared to 30 to 45 interstate conflicts. These conflicts also engendered some of the most severe and massive human right violations in history, the most extreme being mass killing and genocide. Indeed, the majority of deaths in civil wars are those not of combatants, but rather of unarmed civilians. Why do civil wars happen? Why do some wars last much longer than others? Why do some domestic conflicts involve mass killing while others do not? The aim of this seminar is to explore and critic recent research on these different issues in great detail. We will review some of the new literature on civil war and mass killing, analyzing a series of debates drawn from research on the origins, conduct and aftermath of civil wars.
International Relations: Approaches & Issues (IU 2019)
An introduction to contemporary research in international relations (IR), including theories, debates, scholarly traditions, and current important themes. As the “core” course offered in this field, or field survey, the intention is to provide a general, but not elementary, overview. The class introduces students to many of the central theories, authors, and bodies of research. More than just training students in the “grand theories” that used to dominate the field, an emphasis is placed on introducing them to ongoing research programs that are now the defining feature of the discipline.
Topics in Data Analysis: Maximum Likelihood Estimation (IU 2021; 2020; 2018)
- Generalization of regression-like statistical methods to nonlinear frameworks using likelihood-based models. Emphasis is placed on applying these models in the students’ own research, reporting model estimates and relevant substantive quantities, and illustrating robustness
Undergraduate Classes Taught
Civil War and Political Violence (IU 2021; 2020)
A review of different theoretical perspectives, intellectual frameworks, and empirical evidence regarding the origins and dynamics of civil wars and political violence. This class emphasizes active student learning and the application of theoretical research to specific policy contexts.
Senior Seminar on Civil War and Mass Killing (IU 2020)
An in-depth evaluation of different theoretical perspectives, intellectual frameworks, and empirical evidence regarding the origins and dynamics of civil wars and mass killings. This class emphasizes active student learning and the application of theoretical research to specific policy contexts.
International Organization: Political and Security Aspects (IU 2022; 2018)
Systematic analysis of different ways of international organization, with a focus on international security and the instruments that enable and facilitate international relations
The US in The Global Economy (UMN 2015)
- Advanced theoretical and formal theoretical approaches to the international relations of trade, resources, and finances
Teaching Assistant and Instructor Positions
Causes and Consequences of Civil War (UMN 2016)
- Advanced theoretical approaches to the study of civil wars, their causes, and their aftermath
Global Environmental Cooperation (UMN 2015)
- Intermediate theoretical approaches to the politics of the environment
Thinking Strategically in International Relations (UMN 2014)
- Advanced game theoretical approaches to international relations
Other Teaching Experience
Preparing Future Faculty (UMN 2016):
- A class designed to prepare graduate students for careers as teachers in an academic setting (student)
Sample Courses: Undergraduate
Introduction to International Relations
Why does the United States keep forces in Afghanistan? Why did Russia invade the Ukraine? These questions are only part of the day-to-day events that shape the international arena. International relations are thus an integral part of our modern world, and have a crucial effect on shaping our everyday life. Conflict and peace, natural resources, and economic development are all affected as the interactions between different actors create new “winners” and “losers.”’ What are the main actors that shape the international arena? What factors govern the way in which it is being shaped?
This course introduces the systematic analysis of the international arena, national secu- rity and other factors that motivate foreign policies, and instruments used in the conduct of international relations. Particular attention is given to security motivations and economic relations; to the historical structuring and functioning of international institution; to cultural differences that may inhibit mutual understanding or lead to conflict, as well as nationalism and other ideologies; and to the requisites and limits of cooperation.
The U.S. and the International Economy
Globalization has been a defining force driving markets – and, hence, shaping politics – over the past 20 years. Global financial flows and imbalances are implicated in financial crises both recent and past, and the mobility of firms and migrants across international borders has im- portant distributional and regulatory consequences. Yet, the impact of the U.S. on the global economy is not exclusive to purely financial phenomena: conflict and peace, technological in- novation, natural resources, and economic development are all affected as rising levels of trade create new “winners” and “losers.” This class examines some of the broad themes that charac- terize gloablization with a focus on – but not only on – the U.S. and the ways in which its policy responses shape and are being shaped by globalization.
International Organization: Political and Security Aspects
International relations are an integral part of our modern world, and have a crucial effect on shaping our everyday life. Conflict and peace, physical and environmental security, prosperity and economic development are all affected as the interactions between different states and ac- tors create new “winners” and “losers.”’ Who are the actors that shape the international arena? What factors govern the way in which it is being shaped? This course will systematically analyze different ways of international organization, with a focus on international security and the instruments that enable and facilitate international relations. Particular attention will be given to the contemporary role of international institutions, as well as their historical structuring and functioning; to security motivations and economic relations; to the requisites and limits of cooperation; and to emerging zones of international security.
Environmental Politics and Policy
Environmental politics spans a number of traditional subfields within public policy and political science, including international relations, political economy, and comparative politics. The present course will explore a number of recent approaches to environmental politics using international and comparative political economy perspectives, as well as some security implications. We will begin with exploring the domestic side of environmental politics, in order to understand the roles of domestic institutions, partisanship, public opinion, environmental social movements, and the global economy in shaping environmental policy outputs and outcomes. We will then move on to study the connections between resource scarcity and political violence (or lack thereof), before spending the remainder of the course on international environmental problems – including their relationships with international institutions & cooperation, globalization, and climate change politics.
What’s So Civil About War Anyway? The Causes and Consequences of Civil war
Civil war is the dominant form of political violence in the contemporary world – approximately 80 percent of the wars fought since the end of World War II were internal conflicts. What explains the outbreak of civil war? What motivates participants in such conflict? Is international intervention effective? Over the last decades, these and other questions have motivated scholars seeking to understand the social, economic, and political causes – and consequences – of civil war. In this class, we will explore some of the recent literature on civil conflict in order to understand the origins, dynamics of civil war, how it ends, and its aftermath. We will review new and ongoing debates about why civil wars erupt. We will try to understand why such conflict frequently involves the deaths not only of thousands – and sometimes millions – of combatants, but also of innocent civilians. We will discuss the role of participants in such conflicts, their aims, and their motivations. Finally, we will look into the detrimental consequences of such conflicts, and try to understand when they are likely to recur, but also when peace can persist in their wake.
Sample Courses: Graduate
Maximum Likelihood Estimation
This course is intended to give you the tools necessary to produce and publish quantitative research. The course is primarily a generalization of regression-like statistical methods to nonlinear frameworks using likelihood-based models. We will spend most of our time on models where several of the traditional Gauss-Markov assumptions are violated because the dependent variable is non-continuous, and operationalized, for instance, in binary or count formats. We will survey maximum likelihood models for various kinds of limited-dependent and qualitative response variables, paying particular attention not only to each model’s theoretical underpinnings, but also to empirical practicalities – how to estimate, interpret, and present these models.
The class will cover binary response models such as logit, probit in both standard and multinomial forms; ordered logit and probit for categorical dependent variables; survival – or event history – models; and event count models such as the Poisson and Negative Binomial. We will also briefly discuss additional topics related to estimation and identification. Because this class has a large applied dimensions, we will spend several weeks on how to apply these models to different types of data, how to estimate nonparametric models, and how to evaluate the forecasting strength of your models.
While some of the material in this course is fairly technical, especially the first couple of weeks, it would be well within the abilities of students with background in multivariate linear regression analysis. If some time has passed since you have taken the class, it would be highly recommended to reacquaint your self with the basics of multivariate regression by reading through Gujarati & Porter’s Basic Econometrics, Wooldridge’s Introductory Econometrics, or Long’s Regression Models for Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables. I have chosen readings that present the models as clearly and with as little jargon as possible, although some of the material might require several readings to fully comprehend. A solid understanding of scalar and linear algebra is strongly recommended – although not necessary – for this class, and the course assumes familiarity with linear regression at the level of Gujarati & Porter’s Basic Econometrics, or the like. Students are also expected to have at least a basic acquaintance with basic differential and integral calculus, probability theory, and statistical inference.
Political violence again noncombatants has been a defining feature of warfare since prehistoric times. In this class we will cover different theoretical and practical approaches to explaining political violence and understanding its causes, both within and outside the confines of civil war. In the first part of the course, we will discuss theoretical explanations to violence, ranging from rational strategic perspectives to explanations that emphasizes “ancient hatreds.” In the second part we will explore specific motivations for violence, such as democratization, information, the availability of natural resources, and food scarcities. Finally, the third part of the course will cover approaches, both academic and practical, to mitigating political violence and addressing some of its intended and unintended effects on human security and long term development.