Courses Taught

Core in Security, Peace and Conflict (with Kyle Beardsley, Duke University, Fall 2021.) | Syllabus

[Excerpt from Syllabus.] This course introduces students to the literature and research agendas related to studies in international relations (security, peace, and conflict). We will cover a wide array of approaches that relate to both interstate and intrastate conflict and cooperation. While we will not have time to cover all the important relevant work, we will sample a spectrum of the work from the foundational work and studies to the state-of-the-art approaches. Through the readings and discussion, students will get a sense for where the literature has been and where it is going. As students move forward with their studies, this course will help students develop a fuller sense of the context in which other work they read is situated. Students will also be able to better understand the contribution of new work, including their own. Students will also develop important skills necessary for the completion of their own original scholarship. Specifically, they will hone their ability to quickly analyze the research in the field and be able to identify the contributions and potential flaws. Students will also be exposed to a variety of research designs and cultivate a sense for some best practices in the field.


Political Violence, Repression, and Organized Crime (with Livia Schubiger, Duke University, Spring 2022.) | Syllabus

[Excerpt from Syllabus.] This course introduces students to a research agenda on intra-state armed conflict, repression, extremism, and organized crime. The primary focus lies on how political and criminal armed groups interact with state agents and with civilian populations; how they recruit and maintain control over their members; how and why their internal institutions and their strategies of violence vary; and what the consequences of these patterns are. The course also explores the role of the state, particularly when it comes to the effects of violent repression, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs. The course engages with a variety of empirical cases, theoretical approaches, and research methods that will familiarize students not only with cutting-edge research on these issues, but also their relation to ‘big debates’ in conflict research, international relations, and comparative politics. We also explore how and to what extent scholarship on political violence can fertilize the research program on organized crime, and vice versa.


Political Economy of Conflict, Development, and Peacebuilding in Africa and the Middle East (Duke University, Fall 2022) | Syllabus

[Excerpt from Syllabus.] This course tackles major questions in contemporary research on the political economy of conflict, development, and peacebuilding, with special focus on Sub Africa (SSA) and the Middle East (MENA). The course will also explore intersectionality between and across these areas. The major questions to be addressed include: Why are some SSA and MENA countries tend to be poor/stagnant, unstable, and violent, while others tend to be relatively richer, stable, and more peaceful? Why have some of these countries seen growing economic and political inequality, while others have managed to reduce these phenomena? What are the root causes of violent extremism in SSA and what are some of the strategies to counter it? How central is the state to political and economic development of SSA and MENA countries and how does politics and economic development shapes state capacity? What roles does geography and natural resource endowments (or lack thereof) play in conflict and economic and political development? How does international aid affect conflict and development?

My goal in this course is to give students a broad theoretical architecture for thinking critically about these and other important questions in conflict, development, and peacebuilding. The course will also introduce students to current policy debates from practitioners about these issues. It will engage with a variety of theoretical and empirical work pertaining to key themes outline above, with the view to testing abstract theories and concepts using empirics (that is, statistical work) and in-depth knowledge of specific case studies. While our primary focus will be on SSA and MENA regions, our discussion will also draw on work on other regions. Our focus would be on contemporary, rather than historical political and economic developments in these regions (i.e., from most countries’ independence in the 1950s or 1960s to the present day.)


Politics, Economics, and Institutions of Africa (New York University, SCPS, Spring 2010.) | Syllabus

[Excerpt from Syllabus.] This course provides an overview of issues and problems confronting contemporary Africa. The course will examine five core questions: (i) Why are some African state structures weaker than others? (ii) Why are some African countries more prone to pervasive economic crises than others? (iii) What explains variation in democratic transitions and consolidation in Africa? (iv) Why do some African countries suffer from violent civil wars while others are spared? And (v) Why are new threats such as diseases or environmental problems so prevalent in some African countries, but not in others? Throughout this course, we will learn that contrary to the sensational international news coverage of Africa, there is in fact great variation and diversity in the social, economic, and political realities within Africa. That is, despite the severe political and economic crises in several African countries, many others manage to maintain stronger state structures, experience higher levels of economic growth, get spared from violent civil wars and so forth. Our aim will be to explain these differences.

The main objectives of this course are: (i) to help students gain a more comprehensive understanding of the complex social, economic, and political issues and problems confronting contemporary Africa; and (ii) to provide students with analytical skills enabling them to challenge their previously held beliefs about the way Africa works and become critical consumers of news coverage of Africa. Thus, focus will be less on individual cases (though we will discuss many such cases) and more on social science tools (i.e., concepts and arguments) from diverse fields such as political science, economics, history, among others.


Conceptual Foundations of International Politics (Teaching Assistant, Columbia University, SIPA, Fall 2009.) | Syllabus

[Excerpt from Syllabus.] Through a review of major academic writings, lectures, and class discussion, Conceptual Foundations of International Politics examines many of the central concepts, theories, and analytical tools used in contemporary social science to understand and explain international affairs. The theoretical literature is drawn from different fields in the social sciences, including comparative politics, international relations, political sociology, and economics; the lecturers include members of the Columbia faculty who are authorities in these fields (as well as, in many cases, experienced practitioners in their own right). The course is designed to enhance students’ abilities to think critically and analytically about current problems and challenges in international politics.

Conceptual Foundations is a semester-long course. The lecture/plenary session meets on Monday, and the seminar-style sections also meet every week. Attending lectures and sections is obligatory, and students are required to do the assigned readings before their (6804) section because the readings and lectures form the basis of the discussion sections. Students are expected to know when and where their sections meet.