Department of Political Science

The Department of Political Science offers a full undergraduate curriculum in political science; provides graduate education and research training at the highest level of excellence; maintains an environment in which faculty and advanced students can carry out original research on political behavior, processes, institutions, and policies; and contributes to the capacity of governmental and private organizations at the local, national, or international level to deal effectively and humanely with important political issues.

The department's mission is to create a community of men and women—senior and junior scholars, students and staff—that is rich and diverse in terms of gender, race, and national origin, all pursuing or supporting relevant and groundbreaking research and excellence in teaching.

The key to success lies in recruiting, nurturing, and retaining an outstanding faculty, devoted to both research and teaching. In the past several years, the department has successfully recruited seven new faculty (five assistant professors, two associate professors), two of whom joined us in the fall of 2001. We did not search for new faculty this past year because of involvement with a large number of promotion cases. But we did promote three colleagues to full professor, three to untenured associate, and one to tenure.

Educational Initiatives

Through our Washington Internship Program, the department is helping MIT take the lead nationally in enhancing the education of technologically sophisticated undergraduates by exposing them to the practical world of politics and policymaking, while maintaining a high degree of academic rigor. The internship program allows MIT's technically oriented students to experience how institutions vital to their later success operate, while also giving the federal government and other policymakers early access to the best young scientists and engineers in America. The program continues to expand, and 17 undergraduates will participate in the summer of 2002, the largest number in the program's history. We were able to expand participation because, in the past year, an MIT alumnus, Dana Mead, pledged a sizeable endowment to the program.

Professor Nazli Choucri continues to develop the Global System for Sustainable Development (GSSD)—an Internet-based set of experiments in international, distributed, multilingual and multicultural knowledge development, sharing and networking.

Associate Professor Ken Oye organized the forum "After Pearl Harbor and 9-11: Civil Liberties Under Threat" after the tragedy of September 11, 2001. In addition, nearly all faculty who were not on leave participated in post-September 11 forums and discussions about the attack and the US response (co-sponsored by the department and the Center for International Studies). Some of these were broadcast on local television and radio stations, as well as featured on MIT web sites.

Professor James Snyder, jointly with Harvard University, co-organized the bi-weekly seminar on positive political economy and continues to oversee its operations.

Professor Charles Stewart is continuing to participate in the Residence Based Advising pilot project at McCormick Hall.

Public Policy Minor

Jointly with DUSP and Economics, the department recently established a minor in public policy. The program is now entering its fourth year, and is attracting a fair number of students to its courses. There were 15 public policy minors declared in the classes of 2002, 2003, and 2004.

New Subjects

This past year the department offered a number of new undergraduate and graduate courses. They include Science, Technology and Public Policy (taught by Professor Oye); U.S. Military Budget and Force Planning (Principal Research Scientist at CIS Cindy Williams); Comparative Politics and China (Assistant Professor Edward Steinfeld); Great Power Military Intervention in Internal Conflicts: The 1990's (Professor Barry Posen); The Political Economy of Chinese Reform (Professor Steinfeld); The Political Economy of Development (Professor Steinfeld); and Organizational Theory and Military Politics (Professor Harvey Sapolsky).

Graduate Program Changes

In the spring of 2001, the faculty decided to reevaluate the Political Science graduate program. And so over the course of AY2002, the faculty's Graduate Program Committee, chaired by Professor Thomas Christensen, met to discuss improvements to the program. Its recommendations were presented to the faculty and students and were approved by the faculty in June 2002. These recommendations include a year-long seminar required of all first-year students that will touch on core issues in the principal subfields of the discipline; a second-year seminar in which students will be required to write and present a paper of publishable quality of approximately 10,000 to 12,000 words; and a shift from two general exams to one, while adding the requirement that students take at least four courses in a second field with minimal overlap with the generals field. These changes will most likely be implemented in the fall of 2003. The hope is that they will produce both greater intellectual integration and quicker transitions from preliminary requirements to thesis work.

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Student Recruitment, Placement, and Enrollment

The department had a relatively good year at graduate recruitment. It received and reviewed 269 applications for the PhD program and accepted 31 applicants. The enrolling class is 14 students. This year, as in the previous year, we had a much more diverse group of students, including a large group of strong applicants in American politics, as well as a strong group in comparative politics. In the case of comparative, we made a decision several years ago to build from below in this field, and we now have a large group of excellent junior faculty. The fact that the group is so heavily junior limits graduate student recruitment. But as reputations grow and positions consolidate, I am confident that these results will change. The quality and range of interest of the fall 2002 enrolling class indicates that we are heading in the right direction.

Our graduating doctoral students continue to find positions at leading research universities and institutions, such as Dartmouth College, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, Princeton University, UCLA, University of Oregon, and the Naval Postgraduate School. And recent graduate Loren King had his paper selected as best paper in the Urban Section of the American Political Science Association's 2001 conference.

Undergraduate enrollments have continued to trend upward. Political Science courses experienced a 6 percent increase in enrollment in AY2002 versus AY2001 (from 932 to 985 students). And over a longer period, enrollment has increased 27 percent since 1999, while the number of undergraduate majors has inched upward: 34 in the past year, 30 in AY2001, and 27 in AY2000. There were 31 minors (Classes of 2002, 2003, and 2004) compared to 24 last year, and 54 concentrators this year versus 38 last year. These numbers suggest that the department is an increasing presence in the life of MIT's undergraduate population—which is exactly what we had hoped and expected.

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Faculty Awards and Recognition

Professors Stephen Ansolabehere, Snyder and Stewart will receive the Jewell-Loehenberg Award from the Legislative Studies Section of the American Political Science Association (APSA), for the best article appearing in Legislative Studies Quarterly in 2001. The award will be given at the August 2002 meeting of APSA.

Assistant Professor Kanchan Chandra was awarded a Kukin Post Doctoral Fellowship from the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies and was on leave in AY2002.

Professor Joshua Cohen was appointed the first Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities and was reappointed department head for another three-year term. Professor Cohen also was named a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Romanell-Phi Beta Kappa Professor of Philosophy, 2002-2003.

Associate Professor Daniel Kryder was recognized for writing the Best Book of 2000 on Historical Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Politics by the Section on Race, Ethnicity and Politics at the 2001 APSA annual meeting.

Associate Professor Chappell Lawson was awarded a Hoover National Fellowship and elected a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has also been named to the Class of 1954 Career Development Professorship for a three-year term beginning in AY2003.

Associate Professor Melissa Nobles' book Shades of Citizenship was voted in 2001 as the Best Book of 2000 by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and received an honorable mention by the APSA Ralph Bunche Award book committee in 2001.

Associate Professor Roger Petersen received an MIT/SHASS Research Grant for study in Serbia and Kosovo.

Professor Barry Posen was awarded a 2002 research fellowship from the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Professor Richard Samuels was named the MIT Freshman Advisor of the Year, 2001-2002.

Associate Professor David Woodruff was named to the Ford Career Development Professorship in Political Science, which has a three-year term.

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Faculty Promotions and Recruitment

This past academic year was a very busy one for the department in terms of faculty promotions. I am pleased to report that we were very successful in this regard—and promoted the following faculty members:

Assistant Professor Brandice Canes-Wrone was promoted to associate professor without tenure.

Assistant Professor Chappell Lawson was promoted to associate professor without tenure.

Assistant Professor Edward Steinfeld was promoted to associate professor without tenure.

Associate Professor Melissa Nobles was promoted to associate professor with tenure.

Associate Professor Stephen Thomas Christensen was promoted to full professor.

Associate Professor Richard Locke was promoted to full professor.

Associate Professor Stephen Van Evera was promoted to full professor.

In addition, Professor Charles Stewart III was appointed associate dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

In AY2003, the department will conduct faculty searches in American politics, comparative/international political economy, and political theory. Increasing the presence of minorities and women in the department remains a major concern. All three committees formed for the coming year's faculty searches will make special efforts to identify outstanding women and minority candidates.

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Faculty Leaves, Departures, and Visitors

Several faculty members are scheduled to be on leave during the next academic year. Professor Posen is on leave for the year, and will be in Europe conducting research on European security issues. Professor Lawson also is on leave for the year. With his Hoover Fellowship, he will be conducting research on Latin American politics while at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

The department is losing two strong colleagues. Lecturer Margaret Burnham, who has been with the department for over a decade, is leaving MIT to join the law faculty at Northeastern University. And Professor Canes-Wrone is joining the faculty at Northwestern University

In the coming year, the department also will be hosting several visitors. They include Amherst College professor Austin Sarat, who will be teaching a course on law, violence and justice; Eric Dickson, a recent Harvard PhD, who will be teaching a game theory course; and Shigeo Hirano, also a recent Harvard PhD, who will be teaching courses in American politics in the spring.

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Faculty Research, Publications, and Service

Professor Ansolabehere: co-directed the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project (with Professor Stewart).

Professor Berger: researched the "First Globalization," sponsored by the Centre de Recherche en Gestion/Ecole Polytechnique; The First Globalization, 1880-1914, Lessons from the French, forthcoming from Seuil.

Professor Chandra: Counting Heads: Why Ethnic Parties Succeed in India, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

Professor Choucri: "The Value of Knowledge", a two-year project supported by the Alliance for Global Sustainability; "Globalization and eBusiness," with Sloan Professor Madnick and Sharon Gillett, ITC-CTIPD; "The Technology Imperative," in the Encyclopaedia of Politics, forthcoming from Routledge.

Professor Christensen: studied the role of nationalism and ideology in Communist alliances in East Asia during the Cold War and the legacy of US Cold War alliances and their effect on contemporary East Asian alliances; "Beijing's View of Taiwan and the United States in 2002: The Renaissance of Pessimism," in China Leadership Monitor

Professor Cohen: examined issues of global justice, including human rights, democratic governance, and fair distribution of resources, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation; "For a Democratic Society," in the Cambridge Companion to Rawls, ed. Samuel Freeman, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

Professor Kryder: studied the roots and consequences of targeted racial reparations in America; "Reconsidering an American Dilemma," in Total War and the Law, ed. Daniel Ernst, forthcoming from Greenwood Press.

Professor Lawson: Building the Fourth Estate: Democratization and the Rise of a Free Press in Mexico, University of California Press.

Professor Meyer: "Dynamics of Community-based Environmental Protection," a multi-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation.

Professor Nobles: worked on a book-length manuscript on the political origins and consequences of "official apologies."

Professor Oye: researched the role of compensation strategies as mechanisms for offsetting biases toward stalemate; Regulatory Diversity among Open Economies: Sources and Implications, edited with Thomas Bernauer and Hideaki Shiroyama.

Professor Petersen: "Strategy and Emotion in Ethnic Conflict"; "Microfoundations of Civil War Violence" (with Stathis Kalyvas); Understanding Ethnic Violence: Fear, Hatred and Resentment in Twentieth Century Eastern Europe, Cambridge University Press.

Professor Posen: researched European Union security and defense policy; "The Best Defense," in The National Interest.

Professor Rodden: Fiscal Decentralization and the Challenge of Hard Budget Constraints, edited with Gunnar Eskeland and Jennie Litvak, forthcoming from MIT Press.

Professor Samuels: studied comparative civil-military relations and Japanese security policy; Machiavelli's Children: Leaders and Their Legacies in Italy and Japan, forthcoming from Cornell University Press.

Professor Sapolsky: studied the history of US antisubmarine warfare during the Cold War, and political constraints on US defense and foreign policy; "The Defense Industry's New Cycle,"in Regulation (with Eugene Gholz).

Professor Schaffer: researched the comparative politics of vote buying; "Might Cleaning Up Elections Keep People Away from the Polls? Comparative and Historical Perspectives," In International Political Science Review.

Professor Skolnikoff: "Will Science and Technology Undermine the International Political System?" in International Relations of the Asia-Pacific.

Professor Snyder: "Equal Votes, Equal Money: Court Ordered Redistricting and the Distribution of Public Expenditures in the American States," with Professor Ansolabehere and Alan Gerber, forthcoming in American Political Science Review .

Professor Steinfeld: "Market Visions: The Interplay of Ideas and Institutions in Chinese Financial Restructuring," submitted to World Politics.

Professor Stewart: studied the history of Congressional committees and the influence of the House of Representatives on the development of American political parties; co-directed the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project (with Professor Ansolabehere).

Professor Van Evera: "Causes of War: Misperception and the Roots of Conflict."

Professor Woodruff: "Trade Politics, Deductive Theory, and the Empirical Record: Commerce and Demolition in Tsarist and Soviet Russia," submitted to World Politics.

The department's faculty continues to appear at conferences, give invited lectures, and serve on boards of prestigious professional organizations and editorial boards, as well as advising government, private, and international organizations and agencies. I am confident that the number and range of these activities will grow and continue to generate further awareness of and respect for the quality of our department.

Joshua Cohen
Department Head
Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities

More information about the Department of Political Science can be found on the web at


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