PSCI 6400 - Syllabus

  PSCI 6400




Course Description 

One of the major research areas in Comparative Politics since the 1970s has been the study of democratization. Starting with Southern Europe in the 1970s and progressing to Latin America in the ensuing decade, then on to Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia as the 20th Century came to a close, we've witnessed what Samuel Huntington refers to as the third wave of democratization. It has created a rich theoretical debate and extensive empirical research. In addition, it engendered a reaction to behavioralist overreach, reminding the field that there is an intersection between rigorous theoretically grounded empirical research and normative considerations.

More recently, research has moved beyond the question of "what factors create conditions conducive to democracy?" to "what can be done to design institutions that are conducive to democracy in the long haul?" The latter research area of institutional design has focused on constitutions, electoral systems, and federalism, and on the compatibility of all three with the idiosyncrasies of individual societies. Even more recently, researchers have begun to examine the interplay of formal and informal institutions.

Assigned Texts 

The following texts are available at the bookstore. All of them have been around long enough that there are inexpensive used copies available on the internet. In those cases in which Waldo Library owns a copy, I've placed it on reserve in case you wish to save money. If you plan to take the comprehensive exam subfield of democratization, though, you may wish to own copies.

  • Jon Elster, Clause Offe and Ulrich Preuss, Institutional Design in Post-Communist Societies: Rebuilding the Ship at Sea (Cambridge 1998) .
  • Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Prison Notebooks. (Also available as an e-book on the library web site.)
  • Andrew Reynolds, The Architecture of Democracy: Constitutional Design, Conflict Management and Democracy (Oxford 2002).
  • Guillermo O'Donnell, Phillipe Schmitter and Laurence Whitehead, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies (JHU Press 1986).
  • Samuel Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (University of Oklahoma Press 1991).
  • Stephan Haggard and Robert Kaufman, The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions (Princeton 1995).


  • Participation: 20%
  • Weekly Analytical Papers: 30%
  • Research Paper & Presentation: 30%
  • Final Exam: 20%

Course Reserves 

Books listed as being on reserve at Waldo will be on two-hour reserve. Most scholarly articles are on e-reserve available through the WMU portal. The password for the course e-reserves is "democracy."

Participation and Attendance 

This is a seminar course, which means the style should be relaxed, open, and participatory. The quality and quantity of your participation in class is worth 20% of your grade. You will always be expected to be prepared and always be expected to participate actively. And it goes without saying that attendance is mandatory; after all, this is a graduate seminar.

Weekly Analytical Papers 

Each week by noon on Tuesday (class day), you are responsible for sending me a five-page review of the week's readings. Your job is not to merely tell me what the readings say (undergraduates can do that), but to identify the main propositions, find linkages to other authors (either by building upon or critiquing, whether directly or indirectly), and to juxtapose them against one another. In other words, the keys are integration and critical analysis. The papers should be double-spaced in 10-12 point Times New Roman or Calibri font with 1" margins all around and no spacing between paragraphs. Email your papers to me at my email address; hard copies are not accepted.

If you fail to send a paper on any given Tuesday, do not plan on attending class that night.

Research Paper 

Your major assignment for this class will be a research paper and corresponding presentation. You are to select the topic in conjunction with me about half-way through the semester. It may be a case study or a thematic study. The paper is to be in-depth and no less than 4000 words. The combined paper and presentation will comprise 30% of your grade.

Your paper will be due to me several days before the class period in which it will be presented. It will be posted on this site for all students to read. Each student is expected to read all other papers and come to class prepared to comment and critique. I will select a student responsible for critiquing each paper in advance.

More about your paper can be found here.

Academic Integrity 

You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Graduate Catalog that pertain to academic integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.



Students who take this class will submit electronic copies of their assignments. The University expects that all students will be evaluated and graded on their own work. If you use language, data or ideas from other sources, published or unpublished, you must take care to acknowledge and properly cite those sources. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism. To deter plagiarism, encourage responsible student behavior, improve student learning and ensure greater accountability, assignments for this class will be checked for plagiarism . If I conclude that plagiarism may have been committed, you will be notified and will be given the opportunity to respond per the regular institutional process and procedures that govern student academic conduct. If you are found to be responsible for plagiarism in the academic integrity review process, at a minimum you will receive an E for the course and your case will be submitted to the department's graduate and funding committee for consideration of further action.