Teaching

Below you can find information on the courses I have taught at the University of Chicago. An overview of my research and a short discussion of my “Secret Side of International Politics” class is here.

Graduate courses
Undergraduate courses
Older courses

For 2021-2022, I am teaching four courses. In the autumn, I will teach two graduate seminars: Seminar on International Relations Theory (40605) and Qualitative Methods (50901, co-taught with Paul Staniland). In the winter, I will teach two undergraduate classes: Secret Side of International Politics (29202) and the UChicago Core (“Power Identity Resistance”).

Graduate Courses

Seminar on International Relations Theory  (PLSC 40605)
Fall 2019 syllabus here.
This course is a Ph.D.-level survey of the major scholarly traditions and debates in the field of International Relations (IR). It provides an introduction to the central theoretical approaches including realism, liberalism, constructivism and their variants. The course also exposes students to more recent non-paradigmatic research programs, reflections on the field’s development over time, and the recurring “meta-debates” which underlie many of the differences in applied areas. The course is designed to help students prepare for the University of Chicago Political Science Department’s IR general exam. Assigned and suggested readings are a starting point for building a reading list; the course offers practice with answering exam questions; students will exercise modes of critical analysis during the seminar important for passing the exam.

Seminar in International Security (PLSC 40610).
Winter 2021 syllabus here.
This course introduces students the literature on international security affairs. One set of topics focus on traditional war-related topics, including the causes of war, alliances, military effectiveness, and civilian victimization in war. A second set of topics focuses on pre-war and short-of-war issues such as coercive threats, arms racing under the security dilemma, the nuclear revolution thesis, and covert uses of force. A third set of topics focuses on ideas, individuals, and institutions, including race and white supremacy, security-related multilateralism, rhetorical coercion, and the relationship between American political development and international security. Each week, our purpose will be to critically assess the strengths and limits of the central arguments of the readings, on their own terms. Written assignments ask students to synthesize and assess assigned material in a critical literature review and mock comprehensive exam. Students in the Ph.D. program may opt to write an original research paper.

Qualitative Methods (PLSC 50901).
Sample syllabus here.
The goal of this course is to explore when qualitative methods are appropriate for a research question and how to competently engage in such research. The requirements include both careful thinking about methodological issues and a practicum that forces students to get their hands dirty with fieldwork or archival research. All of the topics we discuss are worth an entire course of their own, so by necessity we will be skimming over a vast intellectual area. Instead of trying to cover everything, we will focus on the most common qualitative research designs and their potential combination with other methods. Each week’s reading will combine methodological reflections with applied research; grounding abstract discussions in specific pieces of research is particularly fruitful.

Recent Debates in International Relations (PLSC 40605).
Sample syllabus here.
This course builds on the canonical works in International Relations (IR) theory covered in PLSC 40600 (Seminar on International Relations Theory), leading students through ten weeks of recent debates in IR research organized along substantive and methodological lines. There is an intentional absence of thematic unity among the topics. Some units look more closely at recent debates within the classic paradigms (e.g., “the practice turn in constructivist research”) while others are not easily categorized along these lines (e.g., “emotions in IR”). Some focus on work across empirical domains that shares a recently popular methodological innovation (e.g., “the experimental turn in IR”); other topics are located closer towards the fringe of mainstream IR. Specific topics will change with each offering and are chosen based on a combination of importance to the field, value as exemplars of creative and rigorous research, and my own personal interests. Participants will demonstrate fluency in these debates and develop opinions about their significance and staying power. A secondary goal is for students to expand their own research interests and draw lessons about how debates and fads evolve in IR to maximize the impact of their own work.

Undergraduate Courses

The Secret Side of International Politics  (PLSC 29202).
Fall 2019 syllabus here.
This course introduces students to the secret side of international politics. We will survey a range of theoretical approaches to studying secrecy and analyze the variety of activities that take place “behind closed doors.” We will cover intelligence analysis, secret alliances, secrecy in crisis decision-making, and covert wartime military operations. Questions we will address include: What agreements do diplomats negotiate privately and why? For what ends do states use secrecy in wartime? What do covert cooperative partnerships look like and when do they succeed? What espionage practices do states use and how have they changed over time? The grade is largely based on an original research paper that draws on unique archival/declassified materials. As part of this assignment, students will receive detailed guidance in the research and writing process including how to access relevant archival materials, how to organize your research materials, how to effectively prepare to write, and how to write well. The course is run like a graduate seminar. It meets once per week, has a heavy reading load, requires original research, and high-quality writing. Attendance and substantial participation are essential.
–Also see: some “Tips for Archival Research
–Also see: Library Guide for PLSC 29202
–Week 1 suggested readings: Fearon Colson

Becoming a Global Power: The American Experience (PLSC 26405/36405).
Fall 2019 syllabus here.
This seminar has advanced undergraduates and M.A. students analyze the relationship between war, national security, and American politics. We explore two themes: how military activities have shaped American political institutions and society, and the nature and consequences of the U.S. turn to global hegemony after World War II. Specific topics include the impact of war on presidential power, how formal American empire prompted innovations in governance, the rise of the modern national security state, and the logistics and social consequences of a global role during the Cold War. The course features interdisciplinary readings from across political science and history. Students must complete all readings and actively participate in seminar discussion. Assignments will ask students to analyze scholarly work in the form of a book review as well as engage in close reading and analysis of original primary materials. Doing so will help students understand the history, assumptions, and logics which shaped American hegemony. A final exam will evaluate students’ understanding of the course material as a whole.

Power, Identity, Resistance (SOSC 11100).
Winter 2021 syllabus here.
This is the first course in UChicago’s Power, Identity, and Resistance (PIR) sequence in the Social Sciences Core.  The sequence analyzes various aspects of power with a focus on the state, social cooperation and the meaning of freedom. This first course in the sequence covers canonical works of political liberalism.  Over the ten weeks, we will read Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, and John Stuart Mill.  The goal of this course is, most broadly, to improve your ability to read and interpret complex political writing.  We will read these texts closely to reflect on specific questions like: Where does authority to rule come from?  When does social cooperation emerge? How is it constrained? What is the ideal scope of governmental power? How does society reconcile individuality if shared understanding and values are needed for peaceful coexistence? What is the role of reason, property, and nature for these thinkers?  Underlying these questions is a more basic idea: we can and should scientifically study society and politics. We will reflect on what that entails. For reference, the Winter term in this sequence focuses on the politics of economic production and socioeconomic inequality; the Spring term focuses on violence and resistance.

Older Courses

Security Studies (MA; taught at George Washington University). Sample syllabus here.

U.S. Foreign Policy (BA: taught at Ohio State University).  Sample syllabus here.

Intro to International Relations (BA; taught at Ohio State University).  Sample syllabus here.

Domestic Legacies of War (BA: taught at Ohio State University). Sample syllabus here.