Ongoing Courses

Comparative Political Institutions (graduate). Every Fall since 2016. CMU, Pittsburgh.

This course examines the foundations of the comparative analysis of political institutions, analyzes how institutions vary across countries, and explores some of the main consequences of such variation. The first section introduces the analysis of institutions, discusses the predominant theories that address institutional variation and change, and presents the development of modern state institutions. The second segment discusses how relevant political institutions differ worldwide, including regime types (democracies versus nondemocracies), forms of democratic regime (presidential and parliamentary systems), constitutions, electoral rules, legislatures, political parties, informal institutions, veto players, federalisms, and judicial institutions. The third section centers on the consequences of political institutions, with an emphasis on the analysis of empirical evidence from developing and developed countries. A primary concern throughout the course is how the potential endogeneity among institutions affects our capacity to achieve reliable inferences. Methodologically, this course mainly builds on the rational choice school, but also integrates other perspectives.

Comparative Politics (undergraduate). Every Spring since 2017. CMU, Pittsburgh.

This course is an introduction to the subfield of Political Science called Comparative Politics. Scholars in this subfield use comparative methods to study and compare domestic politics across countries. In this course, we aim to learn about how political systems differ, discuss why they differ and explore the consequences of such variation. The course is divided into four sections. In the first part, we will examine the main theories and methods used to conduct research in the subfield, and discuss the development and consolidation of the modern state. In the second section, we will examine political regimes, including variation among democracies and nondemocracies. In the third unit, we will study some of the countries’ central political institutions. We will compare presidentialism to parliamentarism, and examine legislatures, electoral systems, and political parties. In the final segment, we will scrutinize political mobilization and conflict. We will discuss interest groups, nationalism, social movements, protests, populism, clientelism, revolutions, civil wars, terrorism, and globalization. Throughout the course, the discussion will focus mainly on the Americas and Europe, but not exclusively. Students will be required to apply the concepts and methods discussed in the course to make in-class presentations about different countries.

Latin American Politics (graduate and undergraduate). Spring 2021-. CMU, Pittsburgh.

The world’s most unequal region is an area of contrasts. Ethnically diverse, stable and tumultuous, young and old, urban and rural, learned and illiterate, prosperous and poor, independent yet dependent. The disparities that have characterized the region since colonial times has been a permanent source of instability and the cause of numerous political and economic experiments. Social scientists have found much material to study democratic innovations, revolutions, coups, civil wars, military dictatorships, impeachments, populism, clientelism, corruption, import substitution industrialization, neoliberalism, socialism, regime changes, social movements, welfare policies, regional integration, and diversified leadership. The overarching question to be explored in this course is what forces affect the emergence, development, collapse, reemergence, and consolidation of democracy. To understand the region’s present, it is necessary to study path dependence. Thus, the course centers in three historical periods. First, we will briefly examine Latin American history from its conquest to the end of World War II (1492-1945). The aim is to uncover the demographic and geographical setting with its economic, social, and political evolution. The second part centers on most of the Cold War period (1947-1978) and its combination of political and economic experiments. The third part covers the last forty years, from the wave of transitions to democracy to current challenges to democratic consolidation.

Interviews, Archival Analysis, Process Tracing, and Counterfactuals (mini course; graduate). Fall 2020-

In this mini course, we will explore research techniques that focus on empirical evidence but do not require quantification of data. The aim is to provide students methodological tools and practical experience to conduct qualitative research at a proficient level. We will study four qualitative techniques used in social science research: interviews, archival analysis, process tracing, and counterfactuals. Given the breadth and brevity of the course, students who decide to conduct qualitative research for their master’s thesis are encouraged to work through the literature covered in the course in more detail.

Thesis Proposal Tutorial (mini course; graduate). Fall 2020-

The aim of this course is twofold. First, to equip students with a comprehensive understanding of what entails to produce the master’s thesis. Students will read, think, and discuss about identifying relevant and novel research questions and the content and purpose of each of the components of the thesis. The second goal is to help students develop their thesis projects as much as possible. To achieve this, during the course students will write five reports and a complete first draft of their thesis, receiving detailed feedback throughout the process. While the draft is not expected to include the data that will be analyzed in the thesis, it is expected to leave students with a clear notion of what they need to do to complete a strong manuscript.

Past Courses

Geopolitical Challenges of a Changing Middle East (micro-course; undergraduate). Fall 2020. CMU Qatar.

Comparative Presidential Behavior (graduate and undergraduate). Fall 2019. CMU, Pittsburgh.

Political Economy of Latin America (graduate and undergraduate). Spring 2020. CMU, Pittsburgh.

Latin American Political Development. Summer 2014. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.

Latin American Politics. Summer 2011. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.