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American Politics

The American Politics faculty is a large and diverse group.  We have a long history as a center for the study of political behavior, including voting and electoral behavior, macropolitics, political psychology (which sponsors its own minor), behavior in context, social movements, the media, interest groups, and political parties.  The other longstanding tradition of research and graduate placement in the department is state politics, i.e., the politics and policies of the fifty states. This subfield has hosted a dissertation workshop for the past five years.  Another important emphasis is national institutions:  scholars cover the Supreme Court, the Presidency, and with the addition of a new hire, two professors study the Congress.   Another research area is Public Policy, which has its own minor.  This area includes agenda-setting, framing, as well as policy and administrative processes; it is the site of the nationally known Policy Agendas Project.  The most recent addition to our group is two new faculty members in Race and Ethnic Politics; their expertise includes minority representation in state legislatures, race in urban politics, public opinion, and elections.   The American faculty and graduate students meet weekly for the American Politics Research Group (APRG)/Rabinowitz Seminar, a speaker series that brings in many of the nation’s leading experts in American politics.  And there is close cooperation with the Duke American Politics faculty, e.g., the American core seminar is co-taught with Duke faculty members.  Graduate students in American Politics often do joint research with faculty members or with other graduate students, and many publish articles while still in graduate school. 

Comparative Politics

Our faculty have considerable expertise in a wide range of topics, including political economy, regime change, social movements, democratization, political parties, comparative political behavior and institutional design.  We have specialties in a range of geographic regions and are active in Centers and Institutes across campus and across the Triangle, which are valuable resources for our graduate students.  Faculty and graduate students meet regularly in our Comparative Politics Working Group to discuss a paper by a graduate student, a faculty, or a joint project. We usually meet at a faculty’s home. Graduate students in comparative politics often conduct joint research with faculty members, and many publish articles while still in graduate school. 

International Relations

International Relations is concerned with the causes and effects of interactions among governments, as well with the influence of international institutions, national governments and non-state actors on global governance. UNC’s International Relations faculty study a variety of issues, including the implications of the global economy for domestic politics, the causes of conflict (including war, insurgency and terrorism) among and within nations, and the processes by which governments make decisions regarding their foreign policies. Faculty at UNC study these various phenomena using a range of research methods, including qualitative analyses, statistical modeling and game theory.  The field has dual research foci on international political economy and the study of peace and conflict, as well as the interaction between these areas. We offer a team-oriented learning environment that is student-focused and collaborative. We have a highly successful placement record with our Ph.D. students in academia, public service, and the private sector, and pride ourselves on our dedication to training and co-authoring research with our graduate students.  

Political Methodology

Political Methodology has a long history at UNC, but also one where we have made significant investments in recent years. Our greatest strengths are in quantitative methods and applied formal theory, but we also have several faculty members with expertise in experimental methods and qualitative methods.  Recent faculty hires include experts in Bayesian statistics, social network methods, computer-assisted text mining, experimental methods, and formal theory.  We provide our three-course graduate-level core quantitative curriculum with lab sessions and TA support.  Along with that core, we routinely offer advanced courses in Time Series Analysis, Bayesian Statistics, Social and Political Network Methods, Game Theory I and II, Bargaining Models, Mathematical Models in IR, Positive Political Theory, and Monte Carlo Simulation and Resampling Methods.  Future courses are likely to include: Experimental Methods, Latent Class Analysis, and Advanced Social Networks.  Faculty and graduate students participate in several interdisciplinary efforts on campus, regularly attend the Summer Political Methods Conference, and benefit from involvement with UNC’s Odum Institute for Research in Social Science.  A number of our recent Ph.D. graduates are teaching graduate-level methods at research universities including: the University of Colorado, Cornell University, Duke University, the University of Georgia, the University of Maryland, the University of Tennessee, Texas A&M University, Penn State University, and the University of Massachusetts. 

Political Theory

Political theory is a vibrant part of Chapel Hill’s department of political science, with nationally recognized faculty, an excellent cohort of graduate students, and diverse and popular course offerings for undergraduates.  Our core faculty of Susan Bickford, Steve Leonard, Mike Lienesch, and Jeff Spinner-Halev covers a broad range of specialties, working in areas that include classical, modern European, American, feminist, and democratic theory.  The political theory workshop regularly brings outside scholars to campus, and we have strong ties to colleagues in our field at Duke and across the region.  We offer a wide selection of graduate seminars, and faculty members work individually with graduate students preparing conference papers and articles for journal publication.  And we are proud of our undergraduate teaching, with faculty and graduate students offering outstanding classes in every area of political theory.