Understanding Genocide (Undergraduate)

In this course we will examine one of the most destructive, evil and perplexing phenomena haunting society: genocide – i.e. , the on a large scale organized exclusion and killing of populations defined by race, ethnicity, nationality, political affiliation or religion. In the first section of this course students will be introduced to ideational, rational and psychological explanations of genocide. Causes of genocide can be found at different levels of analysis. We will focus on theories at three different levels. First, we will look at how national and international processes such as modernization and political leadership cause genocide (macro-level). Second, we will look at why individuals, both victims and non-victims, accept or even participate in mass killings (micro level). Third, we will look at what role subnational groups such as religious congregations, organizations, local communities and militias play in linking micro and macro forces (meso-level). In the second part of this course, we will assess the validity of different explanations through the comparative study of four particular cases: the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, Bosnia and Rwanda. Students will explore and present a fifth case on their own. We will end the course with a discussion on resistance and foreign intervention.
Students will improve their analytical skills by drawing connections between social science theory, historical monographs, journalistic accounts and policy documents. Upon completing the course, students will not only be acquainted with the main types of explanations offered for genocide, but they will also be able to evaluate the evidence supporting the various explanations. In turn, this should help students to develop and evaluate proposals to end and prevent mass killing and recognize opportunities for resistance against mass-killing.


Mixed Methods Research Design (Graduate)

This seminar is intended to help students become better consumers and producers of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods causal inference. Whereas the former will make you a better colleague to fellow social scientists, the latter improves your job prospects (and helps you get colleagues to begin with). Based on the potential outcomes framework, this class will introduce students to qualitative and quantitative techniques to isolate causal effects. It will force students to move beyond “naive” regression and case study designs and explore how less naive combinations of both methods can strengthen our confidence in causal claims. This is done by emphasizing the importance of research design and making explicit the assumptions underlying causal arguments.