Graduate Seminars Spring 2022

PL SC 503

Multivariate Analysis for Political Research

Professor Christopher Zorn

 This is the second (full) course in quantitative methods in Penn State's political science Ph.D. program. The course introduces students to regression-type models for the analysis of quantitative data and provides a basis of knowledge for more advanced statistical methods. The course assumes basic math literacy, including familiarity with probability theory, properties of estimators, rudimentary calculus, and linear algebra. The bulk of the course will focus on general models of the form Y = f(XB) + e, and will include discussions of the mathematical bases for such models, their estimation and interpretation, model assumptions and techniques for addressing violations of those assumptions, and topics related to model specification and functional forms. Under this general framework, we will also provide a very brief overview of regression models for binary, ordered, unordered, and event count variables.

 Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

117 Borland Building


PLSC 505

Times Series Analysis in Political Science

Professor Suzanna Linn

 This course studies statistical techniques used to analyze social processes occurring through time. The course introduces students to time series methods and to the applications of these methods in political science. Among the topics to be covered are: measurement of time series, calculus of finite differences and other estimation techniques, ARMA models, Granger causality and vector autoregression, unit root tests, near-integration, fractional integration, cointegration, error correction models and time series regression. We learn not only how to construct these models but also how to use time series models in social science analyses. The focus of the class will be on doing time series analysis, but we will spend a lot of time on the underlying theoretical basis for applied work. Students are expected to have a firm grounding in probability and regression analysis and to bring to the course some interesting questions about the dynamics of political processes. Students are encouraged to use their own data for homework assignments; it is much more satisfying to work with data related to a research problem that you care about!

Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

236 Pond Lab


PLSC 511

Professional Norms in Political Science

Professor Peter Hatemi

This course has three main related goals. The first is to help you get the most out of your graduate school experience. The second is to help prepare you for becoming an academic by improving your understanding of the profession. The third is to prepare you to be an effective and engaged teacher. To accomplish these goals, we will discuss how to make the most of the graduate school experience to make your job portfolio is as strong as it can be. We will learn how to be an effective teacher and mentor inside and outside of the classroom by developing effective syllabi, preparing to teach diverse student populations, and tailoring class sections to meet student needs. Other topics will include diversity in the profession, strategies for effective conference attendance, and the responsible conduct of research.

Students will be expected to attend each and every session, participate in seminar discussions, and complete weekly assignments. Grading for the course will be pass/fail.

 Note: You should enroll in this course if you are entering the second semester of your first year. This is a required, 1.5 credit course.

 Tuesdays, 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

217 Thomas Building


PLSC 518

Survey Design II

Professor Eric Plutzer

 Survey methodology is concerned with techniques designed to collect data by (a) asking people questions, and (b) aggregating those answers in ways that generate valid and reliable inferences about a population of individuals.  This course, one of two courses that introduce survey methodology to students, is primarily concerned with the science of collecting data (while PLSC/SOC 519 is primarily concerned with analyzing data).  Topics will include: Sample recruitment and panel study retention, Questionnaire design, Essential features of collecting data via face-to-face interviews, by live telephone interviewers, by pencil and paper questionnaires, and by surveys conducted via internet and mobile technologies.

 Tuesdays, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

207 Ford Building


PLSC 541

American Political Institutions: Judicial Politics

Professor Christopher Zorn

This is a course on judicial politics. It is taught primarily from an American perspective, but also incorporates significant insights from the comparative study of law and courts. Topics include the organization and operation of judicial institutions; methods for judicial selection and retention; litigation and judicial agenda setting; influences on judicial decision making at the trial and appellate levels; courts' interaction with mass and elite publics; and the judiciary's role in and influence on the policy making process.  The course will draw on theoretical and empirical work in political science, law, sociology, economics, and other fields. Its central focus will be on the United States, but it will also include a substantial amount of content about non-U.S. institutions. Students' responsibilities will include a series of response papers to assigned readings and an original research project.

 Mondays, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

207 Thomas Building


PLSC 555

Comparative Regimes

Professor Joseph Wright

 This course examines authoritarian (non-democratic) rule. It will be most beneficial for students who have completed an introductory sequence of graduate statistical methods courses and a course in game theory. The seminar begins with a brief introduction to classical theories of authoritarian rule, and then surveys the current literature on comparative authoritarianism. The course covers: measures and typologies of authoritarian regimes; formal theories of authoritarian rule; political institutions (legislatures, parties, and elections) in authoritarian regimes; the consequences of authoritarian rule for growth and investment; protest in non-democratic settings; and authoritarian regimes in international relations research (conflict). Students are expected to produce original research on a topic related to authoritarian politics.

 Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

105 Rackley Building


PLSC 560

International Relations: Theory and Methodology

Professor Xun Cao

 This course is the field seminar in international relations, aimed at providing an introduction to major theories of international relations and exposing students to contemporary research in the field. In this seminar, you will learn to understand and evaluate critically academic literature in international relations, as well as become familiar with major themes in international relations research. We will discuss important theoretical approaches used in the study of international politics and explore the manner in which social scientific research is conducted. The broad overview of theories and research topics in this course should enable you to identify areas of interest that you can further pursue in subsequent graduate courses and in independent research. This course is designed for graduate students who are planning to pursue careers in international relations or political science research; we will not focus on current events or issues in particular world regions.

Mondays, 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

110 Sackett Building


PLSC 563

International Political Economy

Professor Boliang Zhu

 This is an advanced graduate course on international political economy (IPE). The goals of the course are to (i) review recent research in IPE, (ii) prepare doctoral students for the comprehensive exam in International Relations in general and more specifically, International Political Economy and (iii) encourage students to form original ideas for promising research projects in the area of international political economy. This seminar focuses on key issues in international political economy, such as trade, foreign direct investment, international finance and monetary policy, foreign aid, development, and international institutions and cooperation. We will investigate the role of international institutions in economic relations and the effect of domestic politics on international cooperation in the areas of trade, investment and finance, as well as attempt to identify the “state of the art” in international political economy.

 Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

104 Thomas Building


SoDA 501

Big Social Data: Approaches and Issue

Professor Burt Monroe

 Interdisciplinary integration of computational, informational, statistical, visual analytic, and social scientific approaches to the creation of big social data. This course addresses computational, informational, statistical, visual analytic, and social scientific approaches to the creation of data that are both "social" (about, or arising from, human interactions) and big (of sufficient scale, variety, or complexity to strain the informational, computational, or cognitive limits of conventional social scientific approaches to data collection or analysis). Examples include text, image, audio, video, intensive spatial and/or longitudinal data, data with complex network, hierarchical and/or other relational information, data from distributed sensors and mobile devices, digitized archival data, and data exhaust from sources like social media. Possible topics include sources of social data, data structures and formats for social data, data collection and manipulation technologies, data linkage and alignment, ethics and scientific responsibility in human subjects research, experimental and observational data collection design for causal inference, measurement of latent social concepts, reliability and validity, search and information retrieval, nonrelational and distributed databases, and standards for data preservation and sharing.

 Thursdays, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.