Pippa Norris Photo

Pippa Norris

Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics


Why do some states have stable and responsive governments, while others lack the capacity to tackle urgent social problems and deliver effective public services? Why are some younger democracies resilient to contemporary challenges --while others regress? How do states differ in their constitutional arrangements, electoral systems, or civic participation – and why does this matter? This course provides the analytical knowledge and practical skills to understand comparative politics and policy worldwide.  It addresses a range of foundational topics:  (i) Concepts, theories, evidence, and methods in comparative politics; (ii) Classifying varieties of democratic and autocratic regimes, and processes of regime transition, consolidation and backsliding; (iii) Institutional designs, including electoral systems, party systems, types of executives, and federalism; (iv) Channels of mass mobilization including through voting, protest activism, civil society organizations, media, civil disobedience, terrorism, and revolutionary upheavals; and (v) The performance of governance and public policies.  The course covers these issues 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. Evaluation involves group exercises and individual papers.  An understanding of comparative politics is invaluable for a wide range of potential careers, whether working for international agencies, multilateral organizations, non-profit NGOs, international corporations, national governments, or NGOs.  Pedagogy includes a ‘flipped classroom’ format where you are asked to view the weekly lecture video before the class. The weekly in-person class meeting will focus on discussing these materials. Small work groups will meet weekly outside of class to discuss topics further. Some statistical skills are an advantage but not essential.