This course is an introduction to the study of comparative politics. What this means is that we will spend the semester diving into, and grappling with, the similarities and differences among countries’ governments and politics. Our goal is to uncover how theories of comparative politics can help us grapple with real-world puzzles across our diverse, globalized world. In this class, we will not simply study these questions, but will also see them take shape in daily life and events in port visits on our itinerary. The countries we encounter throughout our voyage, in other words, will animate our empirical and theoretical investigations. Specific topics covered will include the types and textures of political institutions, political parties, social movements, political culture and economy, economic development, and democracy, and authoritarianism. Why, we will ask, do some countries seem to do a better job of tackling pandemics or providing basic needs for their citizens? Does the design of political institutions make a difference in people’s lives? Why do some countries become more economically developed than others? Why do some countries become democratic and why, for example, do elections lead to democratization in some authoritarian regimes and not others? The syllabus includes case studies that cover the span of our voyage and the span of the globe – from Western and Northern Europe to North, West and Southern Africa, to East and South Asia to North, South and Central America.
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