Undergraduate Courses

American Goverment

  • Description: This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the study of American government and politics. The course will cover four broad areas: the foundations of American politics, individuals and politics, linking citizens and government, and institutions and policymaking. Within each of these areas we will focus more on theory and less on description. By the end of the course, students should be able to answer the following questions. First, why is the American system organized the way it is? How does it compare with other systems? Second, how has the American system changed over the years? What caused these changes? Third, how do citizens interact with the American system? How do they organize their beliefs? How do they participate in politics?
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State Goverment

  • Description: This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the study of state politics. The course will cover two broad areas: the foundation of state politics and states in action. Within each of these areas we will focus extensively on the state of Missouri. By the end of the course, students should be able to answer the following questions. First, why are state governments organized the way they are? How does the state of Missouri compare to other states? Second, how has Missouri changed over the years? What caused these changes? Third, how do states affect our lives? What types of policies do they pass? Are any of those policies unique to Missouri? To answer these questions, each week we will begin with a focused discussion on the assigned readings, then on Friday we will relate those readings to Missouri. As students of the University of Missouri, many of the topics will be relatable. Given that, students are encouraged to bring their own ideas and opinions to class every day.
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Research Methods

  • Description: This course introduces students to the philosophy and practice of political science research. There are two major goals of this course. The first is to have students become critical consumers of current political science literature. The second (more ambitious) goal is for students in this course to develop theories of politics, empirically test them, and eloquently discuss the results of their analysis. For illustrative purposes, the class provides substantive examples from several fields of political science (American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and public policy). The goals of the course are to prepare political science majors for the more analytical upper-level political science courses, to improve their research skills, and to increase their ability to make valid causal statements about political events and behaviors.
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Environmental Politics

  • Description: This course examines the politics surrounding environmental issues. Specifically, we will focus on the political, economic, and ecological trade-offs between the use and preservation of the environment. This course will draw from a variety of disci- plines such as, conservation biology, economics, political science, and public administration. With this in mind, we will put a particular emphasis on the relationship between humans and nature and on the preservation of land, water, and other natural resources in national parks, forests, and other managed lands. We will also discuss specific regulatory regimes like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and problems such as global warming. In these debates, values, interests, economics, and science intersect. This will be a consistent theme throughout the course.
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Political Behavior

  • Description: Research in political science often omits attention to people, with primary emphasis instead placed on institutions and policies. However, human actors are the foundation of everything we know about politics. Thus, in order to fully understand politics we must understand people, especially their attitudes and behaviors. This perspective provides the core rationale for research in the field of political behavior. In this course, we will examine contemporary studies of mass political behavior. Although members of Congress, presidents, and Supreme Court Justices are important we will focus most of our attention on citizens. "Behavior" is defined broadly to include psychological attachments, affect, cognitions, perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs, in addition to overt behavior such as participation and voting. During the course of the semester we will read a mix of "classic" studies and newer "cutting-edge" research.
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U.S. Congress

  • Description: This course will explore a variety of topics related to Congress and its members. We will begin with an overview of the modern Congress, then we will focus on congressional elections. These are important because they establish an important connection between representatives and their constituents, something explored in David Mayhew’s seminal work. Once we have covered these external forces, we will move inside congress. Here, we will discuss the intricacies of legislative process, focusing most of our efforts on congressional committees and party politics. With that said, Congress does not exist in isolation. Instead, it interacts with other institutions, both formal (executive branch) and informal (bureaucracy). We will deal with these relationships at the end of the semester. You should end the semester with both a better understanding of and appreciation for this uniquely important institution.
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Policy Analysis

  • Description: This course will provide an introduction to the issues and methods used for public policy analysis – with a particular focus on the state of Iowa. By the end of the course, students will be able to answer the following: (1) What are the key issues facing Iowa?; (2) What are the basic theories underlying policy analysis?; (3) How are policies created, implemented, and evaluated?; (4) How are experimental designs used to understand policy?; and (5) How should data and results be presented to policy-makers?
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Graduate Courses

Text Analysis

  • Description: This course will give students the tools necessary to analyze a variety of documents, both spoken and written. To achieve this end, students will develop a basic understanding of R, Python, and HTML. While programming is an important component of the course, this is not a programming class. Instead, programming is used to achieve a desired end, meaning the course is more applied than theoretic. By the end of the course students will be able to utilize some of the most useful APIs available to social scientists (including Twitter and Facebook), scrape web pages, use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for large scale data collection, and execute both supervised and unsupervised learning algorithms. These techniques are useful for a variety of text related objectives, such as topic and sentiment classification. They can also be used more broadly for computer assisted content analysis.
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Introduction to Data Analysis

  • Description: This course is an introduction to the basic statistical methods used in Sociology. We begin with the nature of statistics and end with understanding the relationships between two variables. Even though we will learn the foundations of statistical inference, the course will be more applied than theoretic. Ultimately, this course should provide all of the foundational material needed for Linear Models in Sociological Research, the second course of the required methods sequence in Sociology. Given that, a large portion of the class will be devoted specifically to learning how to use STATA. We will use this software for a variety of tasks, ranging from simple data management to more advanced graphing.
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