Updated on March 8, 2017


Political Science 636

Seminar in Comparative Politics

Spring 2017


Dr. Misa Nishikawa


Office: NQ262

E-mail: mnishikawa@bsu.edu

Web: mnishikawa.iweb.bsu.edu

Office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00-10:50, Wednesday 5:30-6:00p and by appointment 


Course Description


Study of the theories, methods, and approaches in comparative politics. Covers themes that can be applied to analyze different countries and regions of the world. This course focuses on the analysis of politics and government through the study of major topics in comparative politics, such as democracy, democratization, development, and political violence. It will acquaint the student with important theories and approaches that are found in classic works within the literature of comparative political inquiry as well as engaging the student in contemporary theoretical and methodological issues.



The list of articles can be found at www.bsu.edu/web/mnishikawa



Grade is allocated in the following way:


Research Paper



Prep for Research Paper



Proposal (Assignment)








Paper Presentation







Grading Scale: For all items in this class for which grades are assigned, the following grading scale will be used:



























Research Paper

Students are required to write a research paper. The length of the paper should be about 20-30 double spaced typed pages (with 12 point font and one inch margins). The paper is due on April 25th. No extensions will be granted. Ten points will be subtracted from studentsí grade for each day that the paper is late. The paper will not be accepted beyond three days from the due date. Poorly performing technology or losing files cannot be used as an excuse.


Class Discussion/Participation

For each class meeting, a few students will be assigned the responsibility of leading the class discussion or for summarizing the main arguments in specified readings. Participation in class discussions is strongly encouraged. Of course, participation should be constructive, and all comments should be relevant to the material being covered in class. Students must do all of the readings prior to the class! Respect should be shown for all other class members at all times.


Obviously, missing class is a major setback. Students will be asked to write a 5-6 page length critique of the required reading for the week that they did not attend.



No exams!



Students are required to write a proposal for their research paper.


General Expectations

Students are expected to attend class regularly, arrive promptly and have a collegial demeanor. For the lab hours, students are expected to use only appropriate software, which typically does not include the internet or e-mail programs.†††


Students will be responsible for knowing any changes made to the syllabus during class time whether they were in attendance or not. The instructorís lecture notes are not available to students; it is the studentís responsibility to obtain class notes from a classmate, should class be missed.††


Academic Honesty

Honesty, trust, and personal responsibility are fundamental attributes of the university community. Academic dishonesty by a student will not be tolerated, for it threatens the foundation of an institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. To maintain its credibility and reputation, and to equitably assign evaluations of scholastic and creative performance, Ball State University is committed to maintaining a climate that upholds and values the highest standards of academic integrity.


Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to;

identify major theories and methods of comparative politics.

identify key political institutions and compare them across countries.

explain the causes and consequences of political systems, institutions and economic performance of different countries.


Required Books†(Tentative)

*Books are also available in Bracken Library.

*The Politics of Aristotle-Edited and Translated by Ernest Barker. Oxford University Press.

*Barrington Moor. 1966. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Boston: Beacon Press

Mancur Olson. 2000. Power and Prosperity: Outstanding Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships Basic Books

*Elinor Ostrom. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action Cambridge University Press.

*Arend Lijphart. 1999. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. 2nd Ediction. Yale University Press

Jong-Sung You. 2015. Democracy, Inequality, and Corruption: Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines Compared. Cambridge University Press

*Robert H. Bates. 2010. Prosperity and Violence: The Political Economy of Development. The Norton Series in World Politics





Week 1 (1/11)


Research Paper: Topic


Assignment 1: Writing a research proposal (In class assignment, but the complete proposal is due on 2/22.) Visit the course web page for more information.

Week 2 (1/18)

The Politics of Aristotle

p1-14, p110-p254

Week 3 (1/25)

Dictatorship and Democracy (Discussion)

Moor Chs 1, 2, 4, 5

Week 4 (2/1)

Political Economy and Violence (Discussion) 


Week 5 (2/8)

Institutions (Discussion)

Lijphart Chs 1-5, 7-8, 14-15

Week 6(2/15)  


Assignment 1

Articles (Visit http://mnishikawa.iweb.bsu.edu/)

Article 1, Article 2, Article 3

Week 7 (2/22) 

Communism (Discussion)

Olson Preface-Ch8

Week 8 (3/1) 

Political Stability (Discussion)

Article(Ahmed, Amy) Article 2 (Alex, Jared) Article 3 (Brittney, Aaron)

Week 9 (3/8)

Spring Break


Week 10 (3/15)

Research paper: Introduction Due


Week 11 (3/22)

Research paper: Theory and Hypothesis (Theory) Due


Week 12 (3/29)

Collective Action Problems Governing the Commons(Discussion)


Week 13 (4/5)

Research Paper: Data and methods (Case selection) Due


Week 14 (4/12)

Political Economy, Environment, and Collective Action Problems:Application-Cleaning Up Mount Everest (Discussion)


Week 15 (4/19)


Political Geography

Guns, Germs, and Steel

 (Visit http://mnishikawa.iweb.bsu.edu/)

Week 16 (4/26)


Research paper: Descriptive Statsand Results (Case Study) Due

Resarch paper: Power Point Due


Week 17 (5/3)

Research Paper: PresentationResearch Paper:  Final paper Due