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Our graduate students have extraordinary records of accomplishment and promise.  Training at UNC is comparable to that at the nation’s top PhD programs and we are proud to bring your attention to these students entering the academic job market.

For more information about any of our students, please see their individual web sites as listed below or contact Professor Frank Baumgartner, Placement Director

American Politics
Comparative Politics
International Relations
Political Theory

American Politics

Serge Severenchuk. American Politics and Quantitative Methodology. Dissertation Title: Polarization and Partisan Bias. Summary: My dissertation primarily deals with psychological bases of polarization and partisan bias. First, I examine whether people with certain psychological traits approach partisanship in a more emotional, biased manner. Second, I examine whether the effects of partisanship vary by the context (namely political vs. nonpolitical). Finally, I have a methodological study on conjoint experimental design in political science. It examines how different types of conjoint design affect subjects’ preferences. Status: PhD August 2019. Currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Dartmouth College, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences. Publications: American Politics Research. Teaching Interests: Quantitative methods, public opinion, political psychology, public policy, and American politics. Email: serge.severenchuk@gmail.com Website: https://sites.dartmouth.edu/serge/

Emily Wager. American / Methodology Dissertation:  People Like Us? American Preferences for Bigger Government (Stimson, Baumgartner, Hetherington, MacKuen, Kelly).  The U.S. has experienced runaway economic inequality since the 1970s, yet there is not strong public support for government policies that serve to narrow the growing disparities between citizens. In my dissertation, I endeavor to develop a deeper understanding as to why. To better understand public opinion in the context of inequality, I take a multi-method approach, using both micro and macro quantitative data, as well as qualitative methods involving fieldwork in several American states.  This research has been funded by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant.  Status: Expected March 2020. Publications: Cambridge University Press (Elements Series).  Teaching Interests: public opinion, race/ethnicity and politics, political economy, macropolitics, state and local politics, quantitative and qualitative methodology. Emailewager@live.unc.edu Websitewww.emilymwager.com

Comparative Politics

Katharine Aha. Comparative Politics/International Relations/Methodology. Dissertation: Ethnic Heterogeneity and Party Politics in Eastern Europe (Vachudova, Hooghe, Martinez-Gallardo, Maxwell, Robertson). The three articles of my dissertation demonstrate that ethnicity, long argued to be an important cleavage in post-communist politics, continues to structure how parties compete with one another in many party systems across the region. This structure of political competition varies depending on whether or not a country has a politically salient ethnic minority group, and when present, the minority group’s previous position within the former communist state. In the countries that do have ethnic minority parties, these parties have become enduring members of the party system. Mainstream formateurs have found them to be a constant ally in governing coalitions: ethnic minority parties are more likely to be asked to join a coalition than mainstream parties, even when controlling for other factors, like ideology, that we may expect to contribute to a party’s appeal as coalition partner. Additionally, after serving in government, ethnic minority parties are not punished at the polls for poor performance, despite consistent punishment of mainstream incumbents. This hints that the ethnification of party systems is here to stay, as ethnic minority parties continue to be successful at mobilizing voters and earning spots in government. Publications: Party Politics (forthcoming) Status: PhD Fall 2018. Lecturer, Department of Government, Dartmouth College. Teaching interests: Comparative Politics, European Politics, Central/East European Politics, Ethnic Politics, Party Politics. Email: aha@dartmouth.edu Website: www.katharineaha.com

Guzel Garifullina. Comparative Politics/Methodology. Dissertation: Political leaders and risky decisions: the effects of selection institutions (Robertson, Bassi, Hooghe, Reuter, Olivella). In my dissertation, I identify and explore one of the mechanisms connecting institutions of political leader selection and leader characteristics and behavior – political ambition. I argue that the conditions under which political leaders are selected (whether they are popularly elected, whether the selection is competitive, how they are held accountable) determine who will choose to run for leadership. As a result, leaders with certain characteristics will be more or less likely. I focus on one such characteristic – risk attitudes – and demonstrate through a laboratory experiment how changes in selection conditions lead to changes in the candidates’ risk attitudes. I then test the predictions of this theory on the municipal level data from Russia, arguing that we should see the effects of candidates’ (and then leaders’) risk attitudes in risky policy decisions they are making. This adds to our understanding of specific conditions under which institutional changes lead to changes in political leader behavior and policy decisions and outcomes. My other projects focus on Russian subnational elites. Publications: Comparative Political Studies (2016, co-authored), Demokratizatsiya (2014, co-authored), Europe-Asia Studies (2014, co-authored). Status: PhD expected by May 2020. Teaching interests: Comparative Politics, Russian and Post-Soviet Politics, European Politics, Latin American Politics, Subnational Politics and Federalism. Email: gguzelle@live.unc.edu Website: www.guzelgarifullina.com

Cole Harvey, PhD 2019. Comparative Politics / International Relations. Dissertation: The Machinery of Manipulation: A comparative analysis of principal-agent relationships and electoral manipulation in Russia, Ukraine and Mexico (Committee: Robertson, Bassi, Carsey, Hooghe, Martinez-Gallardo, Wibbels). My research investigates how authoritarian leaders attempt to manage elections through electoral manipulation. In particular, I investigate the principal-agent dynamic that occurs between leaders who wish to influence the election result and the individuals who are responsible for actually stuffing the ballot boxes, buying the votes, or forging the results. There are two key insights in this model that distinguish it from earlier approaches. First, I argue that it is the consolidation of patronage networks rather than the competitiveness of the election that allows agents to coordinate around a particular patron. Second, I argue that election-manipulating agents can face risks, including possible criminal penalties, even if their principal remains in office. Where such risks are locally high, agents prefer to rely on techniques like vote-buying, which are harder to detect. The theory thus makes predictions for both the severity of electoral manipulation and the form it is likely to take, which I test using election-forensic analysis of precinct-level data from Russia, Ukraine, and Mexico. I also have ongoing projects on authoritarian courts and elections, and the political psychology of election manipulation. Publications: Electoral Studies (2016), Democratization (2017), Government and Opposition (2018), Europe-Asia Studies (forthcoming). Teaching interests: Intro to Comparative Politics, Russian / Post-Communist Politics, Varieties of Authoritarianism and Democratization. Email: cole@colejharvey.com. Websitehttps://www.colejharvey.com.

David Ma. Ph.D. expected Spring 2020.  Comparative Politics (major) / Political Theory (minor). Dissertation: The Political Economy of Judicial Independence in Dominant-Party Democracies (Committee: Huber, Hartlyn, Unah, Issacharoff, Koo). My dissertation research investigates three cases of a relatively rare phenomenon — an independent court within a dominant-party regime. Instead of focusing on the power diffusion among political parties as the main explanatory variable that is often employed by the literature, I identify an alternative power diffusion that is between the dominant party and the business sector that accounts for the independent constitutional courts in Malaysia (before 1988) and South Africa, as well as the independent ordinary courts in Taiwan (since the 1990s). I test the theories using mainly qualitative methods such as process tracing and other observable qualitative or quantitative implications of the theories, collecting data through elite interviews, surveys, and archival research. Further Research: My next (book) project will investigate the divergent historical trajectories of the constitutional courts in two nascent and natural resource-dependent democracies: Indonesia and Mongolia, in the context of democratic backsliding. Publications: Comparative Politics (forthcoming 2020), Democratization (2017). Teaching Interests: Introduction to Comparative Politics, Politics and Political Economy of East and Southeast Asia, Comparative Constitutionalism and Judicial Politics (undergraduate course / graduate seminar), Democratic Backsliding: A Global Survey, Introduction to Research Methods (undergraduate). Email: davidma00@gmail.com

Katherine McKiernan. Comparative Politics/ Methodology. Dissertation: My dissertation focuses on three questions pertaining to how legislators successfully distribute club goods, or excludable public goods, to municipalities in weak party systems. In the first paper of my dissertation, I ask where national legislators are most likely to use mayors as brokers in order to distribute club goods. I develop an original measure of municipal-level clientelism using a Bayesian Mixed-Membership model in order to test the hypothesis that legislators are most likely to provide goods to municipalities where the mayor uses clientelist linkages. I test my theory in Colombia and find that municipalities with higher levels of clientelism are more likely to receive club goods. This suggests that mayors may continue to use clientelism in order to increase their access to central government resources. In the second paper of my dissertation, I develop a formal model in order to generate predictions for when a mayor will be a reliable broker for national-level politicians. I develop a signaling model with three stages. In the first stage, mayors chose whether to send a clientelist signal in order to indicate that they are investing in building political networks. In the second stage, legislators can decide to provide a club good of any size between 0 and 1. Finally, in the last stage of the game, the mayor can determine whether to attribute credit to the legislator for the club good. My model predicts that mayors who have ambition for higher level office are more likely to attribute credit and finds a pooling equilibrium where all mayors will chose to invest in clientelism, regardless of ambition. I test the predictions of this model using a survey experiment of municipal elites in Colombia. Finally, in the last article of my dissertation, I ask when club goods will actually affect citizen vote choice. I ran an original survey experiment of over 2000 citizens in Colombia and find that citizens are more than twice as likely to correctly identify a legislator as responsible for club goods when they have received credit and are more likely to support that legislator. Status: Ph.D. May 2020. Teaching Interests: Comparative politics, Latin American politics, distributive politics, democratization, research methods, regression analysis, formal theory, survey experiments, Bayesian analysis. Email: kmck@live.unc.edu Web: http://www.katherinemckiernan.com

Stephanie N. Shady is a Comparative Politics Ph.D. Candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses broadly on social identities and political behavior and takes a social psychological approach. In particular, she is interested in national identity, religion, migration, the European Union, and political attitudes.  Dissertation: Her dissertation examines the varied ways that individuals use religion to conceptualize boundaries of community. Using original and existing survey data as well as qualitative case studies, she analyzes the consequences of religion-community boundaries for national identity and immigration attitudes in Europe and the United States.  (Dissertation article) Territory and the Divine: The Intersection of Religion and National Identity  2021. West European Politics (Online first). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01402382.2021.1884458?journalCode=fwep20  Despite patterns of secularization across Europe, religion continues to exert influence. Besides theological belief, religion is deeply integrated into daily life as a social institution and marker of who belongs in a community and who does not. (Dissertation article) Religion Policy and Subnational Identities  Previous scholarship has challenged the utility of broad national church-state models (state church, concordatarian, secular) for understanding religion policy, and this literature includes valuable single-case studies and ethnographies. (Dissertation article) Competing Christian Frames: Explaining Variation Among Christians in Immigration Attitudes in the United States “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in….” –Matthew 25:34-35 (New International Version)  In a 2020 presidential campaign event in New Jersey, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) quoted the Biblical parable above as she pointed to the United States’ moral responsibility to treat immigrants with compassion. Indeed, compassion and humanitarianism are central tenets of a Christian moral code. Status:  Ph.d. May 2022. Teaching Interests: I am interested in courses in the fields of comparative and American politics and international relations. Within comparative and American politics, I am qualified to teach courses in migration, religion, political psychology and behavior, and public opinion with data analysis. I can also offer courses in European politics and integration. Within international relations, I am prepared to teach courses in migration and international governance. With nearly a decade of experience with National Model United Nations as a staff member and student, I am particularly interested in leading a Model UN team in conjunction with a course or as an extracurricular activityEmail:  stephns@live.unc.edu  Web: https://stephanieshady.com/research/

 

Political Theory

Lucy Britt. Political Theory. DissertationToward a Political Aesthetic of Commemoration. My dissertation focuses on how political societies remember historical violence through their physical environments. I analyze case studies of aesthetic representations of mass violence: representations of the Rwandan genocide in Rwanda, of chattel slavery in the United States, and of colonial violence against Indigenous peoples in Australia. Analyzing the successes and failures in each of these cases, I propose a three-pronged approach to a politically productive aesthetic of commemoration that emphasizes bodily vulnerability, historical contingency, and political solidarity. I take a comparative political theory approach and engage in a number of literatures, including memory studies, material culture, architecture and planning theory, and postcolonial theory. A few of the thinkers I engage with are: Theodor Adorno, Judith Butler, Elaine Scarry, Susan Sontag, and Hannah Arendt. Status: ABD; Ph.D. expected Spring 2020. Teaching Interests: feminist theory, modern political theory, introductory U.S. government, contemporary political theory, democratic political theory. Email: lcbritt@unc.edu Website: http://www.lucybritt.com

International Relations

Daniel Gustafson. International Relations. Minor: Political Methodology. DissertationCompounding Grievances: Economic Stress and Self-Determination Movement Contention (Stephen Gent, Navin Bapat, Mark Crescenzi, Graeme Robertson, Dave Siegel). In my dissertation, I develop a theory that highlights the combination of economic stress factors and state repression as the key determinants of contentious strategies for both self-determination movements and governments. While conflicts between self-determination movements and governments are most often defined by the domestic opposition’s long-term aspirations, my dissertation asserts that groups’ and states’ behaviors are subject to short-term concerns. I argue that in order to understand the patterns of violent and nonviolent tactics used by the actors in self-determination disputes, we must focus on short-term grievances caused by poor economic conditions and the use of violence. Specifically, my dissertation research suggests that as economic stress factors worsen and governments engage in repression, self-determination movements become more violent. Knowing that repression might trigger anti-government violence, governments can observe economic indicators in their strategic evaluations of the decision to violently crackdown. I argue that these dynamics do not only apply to the contenders in self-determination disputes, as economic conditions and the use of violence shapes public opinion over the disputants. I test these hypotheses using an original dataset of self-determination movement events in Africa. My dissertation generates new insights into the ways in which short-term grievances affect the long-term strategy of self-determination movements, and it offers important policy implications for conflict prevention and the protection of human rights. Status: Ph.D. Expected Spring 2019. Teaching Interests: Civil conflict, contentious politics, the politics of self-determination, quantitive methodology, and Bayesian modeling. Email: gustafson@unc.edu Website: http://gustafson.web.unc.edu

Mitchell Watkins. International Relations/Political Economy. Dissertation: My dissertation focuses on three questions pertaining to the impact of foreign aid on political institutions and governance in recipient countries. The first paper of my dissertation examines the effect of Chinese development assistance on recipient country compliance with Western aid conditionality in Sub-Saharan Africa. The findings suggest that development assistance from emerging donors might deter policy reform, particularly in high conditionality sectors such as governance, energy and natural resources, and macroeconomic policy. The second paper examines the effect foreign aid on the incidence of political budget cycles in developing democracies. The third paper investigates how foreign aid projects impact citizens’ perceptions of institutional trust and government legitimacy using geolocated data on project locations and multiple rounds of the Afrobarometer survey for three Sub-Saharan African countries. Status: Ph.D. expected in May 2019. Teaching Interests: International relations, international political economy, international institutions and global governance, politics of development. Email: jmitchellwatkins@unc.edu. Web: https://mitchellwatkins.com/

Rob Williams. International Relation. Minor: Political Methodology. Dissertation: The Geography of Secession (Mark Crescenzi, Stephen Gent, Navin Bapat, Patricia Sullivan, and Santiago Olivella) In my dissertation I ask why some rebel groups fight for secession and independence, while others are willing to use violence to secure more autonomy and self-governance within an existing state. Because rebel groups are strategic actors, they realize that military victory or plebiscite is not the end of their political struggle; if they gain independence, they must then create a new state. States are territorial entities, and so the trajectory of any new state will be greatly influenced by the resources and challenges its territory holds. Knowing this, rebel groups whose territory is more conducive to governance and administration will push for independence, while groups whose territory is less suited will fight for autonomy within the state. However, governments are aware of which groups inhabit territories most suitable to secession and employ various measures to try and stop these conflicts before they can begin. To test these arguments, I focus on rebel movements tied to ethnic groups with defined homelands. By doing so, I am able to exploit geospatial data on population and government activity to compare the governability of subnational territories cross-nationally. I also employ agent-based models and qualitative case studies to closely investigate causal mechanisms. Status: Ph.D. Summer 2019, Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington University in St. Louis 2019-2020. Publications: Journal of Open Source Software, Political Science Research and Methods (forthcoming). Teaching Interests: Conflict processes and management, terrorism and political violence, quantitative methodology, machine learning. Email: jayrobwilliams@gmail.com. Website: jayrobwilliams.com

Matthew Young.  Political Theory and American politics, with research and teaching interests spanning the fields of American politics, the history of political thought, contemporary political theory, constitutional law, religion, global politics, and the ethics of peace and war. Dissertation: Fear, Hope, and Love: Apocalyptic Faith and the Origins of Toleration, examines the use and abuse of apocalyptic rhetoric in early modern debates regarding toleration. I bring historical and critical methods to bear on pressing contemporary issues, articulating the need for a political philosophy of the apocalypse that combines hope and patience to provide a framework for the practice of toleration. You can learn more about my research and read an article derived from my dissertation here.  Status: Ph.D. Spring 2022. Teaching Interests:  American political thought and American political development, Constitutional law and civil liberties, Public policy (particularly urbanism and agricultural policy),The history of political thought (ancient, medieval, and modern) Contemporary theories of justice, American politics, Toleration and the politics of pluralism, The theory and ethics of international relations, Religion and politics, International political economy; inequality, Democratic theory  Email: mhyoung@live.unc.edu   Website: http://matthewhyoung.com/