Professor Florian M. Hollenbach
Email: email@example.com; Web: fhollenbach.org
Office: 332 LASB; Phone: 979-845-5021
Office Hours: Monday 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm or by appointment
Thursday, 8:30 am - 11:20 am
Class Location: ALLN 2064
The syllabus may be changed through out the semester. The most updated version will be on my website at http://fhollenbach.github.io/Pols627_2020 and will reflect any schedule changes. I will share additional material on the course Google Team Drive.
All assignments are to be submitted electronically via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The goal of this course is to cover fundamental concepts in Comparative Political Economy CPE) and provide an overview of the literature in the field. We will cover a wide range of topics and research approaches, often focusing on the interaction between politics and markets. Throughout the semester we will cover both developed and less developed countries. While there are no prerequisites to this course, students will encounter and will have to learn fundamental concepts in economics and other related fields.
We will be reading both articles and book chapters throughout the semester. Readings under the header Additional Readings are not required, but suggestions for those interested in the particular topic (see exception for in-class Presentations and Discussion Papers). This is a PhD student level seminar; as such I expect all students to come to class prepared, having read all required material prior to sending discussion questions on Wednesday mornings. I also expect you to complete relevant assignments on time.
Some of the weeks have substantial amounts of readings that may take significant time to get through. Make sure you start early enough. Additionally, some of the methodological work will be difficult. It is okay if you do not fully understand everything before coming to class, that is what our class meetings are for. Nevertheless, read carefully and at least try to understand each article/chapter. You should be able to discuss all of the required readings in class.
If you have not done so, I would advise you to develop a consistent system of reading and taking notes. We will discuss some approaches to reading early in the semester.
Since we will read large parts of them, you should acquire the following books:
When reading you should think about questions such as:
Question/Framing: What is the question the authors are trying to answer in this work? Is this work important?
Theory: Is there an original contribution in the theoretical part of the work? Is the theoretical argument coherent? Are the mechanisms elaborated sufficiently? Are the assumptions plausible? Do the hypotheses follow logically from the theoretical argument? Are there theoretical implications that the authors missed?
Research Design: What is the unit of analysis? What is the research design? Does the research design allow the authors to test the specified hypotheses? Does it allow them to answer the question posed in their work? Are there important issues the authors missed? How could the research design be improved? Does the research design allow for causal identification? If not, why not? Is the description of the research design sufficient?
Data: Are variables adequately measured and do they correspond to the concepts of interest? Could we improve the authors’ measures? Are other (better) data available to investigate these questions? Is the description of the data sufficient to replicate the authors’ results?
Findings: Are the results correctly interpreted? Are the findings substantively important? How do the results correspond to the theory? Are there other potential explanations that are not ruled out by the research design? Are the authors interpreting the results causally? If so, is that justified?
Writing: Which sections of the paper are well/poorly written? Why? Are there parts that are particularly exciting/convincing? If so, for what reason? Does the introduction make you want to continue reading the work? What do you think about the overall structure of the work? Pay particular attention to the abstract and introduction.
At the end of the semester, after completing this course, students are expected to:
The class will meet once a week from 8:30 am to 11:20 am on Thursday. In most weeks, class will be a mixture of lecture, exercise, and class discussion. In general, however, I expect the majority of class to be discussion based.
Your grade will be based on the following:
Participation: I will grade your participation each week (1-3 points) based on your contribution to the class discussion. Again, it is not the quantity but quality of participation that is important.
Discussion Points: Each student should submit two discussion points on the weekly readings (starting 01/23). The two discussion points should be send to me in plain text (e.g., in the body of an email or as a .txt file) via email (to email@example.com). At the latest, you should send the two discussion points 24hrs before class (i.e., generally 8:30 am Wednesday morning). Your discussion points will shape class discussion and I will share all discussion points with the class on Wednesday evening. Each discussion point should be about one to two paragraphs long (but no more than 200 words) and raise questions or arguments specific to areas of the week’s readings. These should not be clarifying questions but raise points for discussion. Questions are good starting points, but you should attempt to also suggest an answer. Make sure to back up any points you raise. For example, it would not be sufficient to say ``the empirical model suffers from omitted variable bias’’. Instead, you should specify what exactly is missing and why it would a threat to inference. Moreover, criticism is again a great starting point, but try to be constructive in your discussion points. Try to make larger points about the readings, discussion points about statistical issues are rarely strong contributions. When thinking about your discussion points I would focus on points 2 & 3 in the reading guide above. Each discussion point should focus on a different part of the readings. I will grade your discussion points each week (9 total points), based on 1) importance/insight (0-3); 2) creativity/innovation (0-3); 3) writing (0-3). Late submissions will be penalized one point per hour late.
In-Class Presentation: Each of you will give one in-class presentation (~12 min) about a paper in the supplementary reading list. You can pick any of the papers listed under the ``Additional Readings’’ list on the date you selected. For your presentation, imagine you are the author of the paper and are preparing a conference presentation for this paper. You should make sure that your presentation is correct and that you practice your presentation beforehand. The goal is for you to demonstrate your understanding of the paper and practice presentation skills. Keep in mind that other students in the class have not read the paper, so your presentation should make it accessible to all. Presentations will be graded on content and delivery.
Discussion Paper: Each student will write a discussion paper on readings for one of the weeks. Your discussion paper should cover the required readings for the given week, plus two items from the Additional Readings’’ list. You do not need to talk about every single one of the required readings and your discussion paper should not just be a summary of the individual readings. Instead, try to synthesize the readings and find a common theme for the discussion (this might affect how you choose two of the additional readings). Your review should be approximately five pages long (double spaced, excluding the bibliography). You may want to pick a week that is related to your research paper. You are welcome to use parts of your discussion paper in the final paper. Discussion Papers are due prior to class of the selected week.
Final Presentation: We will have a mini-conference on April 23 (most likely split over two days) for each of you to present your final project. Your presentation should be similar to a conference presentation (~ 12 min) about your final research paper and cover the whole research project (i.e., motivation, theory, results). You will receive feedback on your presentation, which you should incorporate into your final paper. You must share your final presentation with me and your peer-review partner on Sunday evening prior to the presentation (April 19th, 5pm).
Discussion of Peer’s Presentation: In addition to your own presentation, you will be discussing one of your colleague’s presentation. Your discussion comments should be about 3-5 minutes long and should include at least three larger comments.
Final Paper: Each of you will submit an original research project as the final assignment in the class. This paper should be a full research paper on a topic in comparative political economy. You should develop and empirically investigate a theoretical argument. The paper will have to make at least a theoretical or empirical contribution. You should submit a one paragraph proposal to me by week 6 (February 20th, 5pm) and I encourage you to come talk to me about your paper early and often. The final paper should be prepared as if you are submitting it to the American Journal of Political Science (AJPS). This means, the paper should be no longer than 10,000 words (including main body of text, notes, references, and the headers of tables and figures). You can find the full guide lines here: https://ajps.org/guidelines-for-manuscripts/manuscript-preparation/. Your paper must be original work and solo-authored. If you are thinking about using a paper that has been part of an assignment in a different course, you must first receive permission from me and the instructor in the course the paper was previously submitted to. Any final paper should include the following sections:
Recall that your Discussion Paper may serve as a starting point for the literature setup in your final paper. The final paper is due at 5 pm on April 30th, 2020. Your papers will be graded on originality, creativity, contribution to the literature, adequacy of the research design, empirical execution, and writing.
The grading scale (in %) used in this class for all written assignments, and the overall class grade will be the following:
According to TAMU rules, I can not provide grades or updates on your grades via email. You are welcome to ask about your overall performance or specific grades at any point in the semester.
All written assignments will be graded based on both content and quality of writing. You can find helpful links on how to write well here: http://fhollenbach.org/WritingAcademic/. You may want to consult some of the books that are listed there. Writing is one of the most fundamental skills for academics. All of us struggle and it requires a lot of practice. Do not hesitate to ask for help. If you are having trouble, please come see me or visit the University Writing Center (see below).
The University Writing Center (UWC), located in 1.214 Sterling C. Evans Library and 205 Business Library & Collaboration Commons, offers one-on-one consultations to writers. To find out more about UWC services or to schedule an appointment, call 458-1455, visit the web page at https://writingcenter.tamu.edu/, or stop by in person. This is a really great resource and I encourage you to take advantage of it.
“AN AGGIE DOES NOT LIE, CHEAT OR STEAL, OR TOLERATE THOSE WHO DO”
All students should follow the highest standards of academic integrity. Cheating or plagiarism will not be tolerated in any way. If you are unsure what entails plagiarism, come talk to me. For more info, see: http://student-rules.tamu.edu/aggiecode & http://aggiehonor.tamu.edu. Any cases of cheating or plagiarism will be submitted to the academic honor council.
I expect you to attend class unless circumstances prohibit you from doing so. If you are sick, it is best to stay home. If you must miss class, please let me know in advance. Even if you are missing class, you are still responsible to do the readings and submit discussion questions and assignments. If there are special circumstances that prevent you from coming to class, please come talk to me early on.
Everyone needs to participate in class discussion. Participation is a large part of your grade and important. Quality of participation is more important than quantity, however. You have to provide evidence to substantiate your points, uninformed opinions are not helpful to the discussion. Your participation grade is based on the quality of your class participation. Please be respectful to your fellow class mates, do not interrupt them, and wait until called upon.
I encourage you not to use a laptop in class. Laptops have been shown to be a distraction not only to the students using them but also fellow class mates. A recent study has found that not having laptops in class can have a similar effect as hiring a SAT tutor. If you think you have good reasons for why you need to use a computer, however, you may do so.
In addition, please make sure your cell phones are on silent mode and refrain from using them during class time.
Except in the case of observance of a religious holiday, to be excused, the student must notify his or her instructor in writing (acknowledged e-mail message is acceptable) prior to the date of absence. In cases where advance notification is not feasible (e.g. accident or emergency) the student must provide notification by the end of the second working day after the absence. This notification should include an explanation of why the notice could not be sent prior to the class. Accommodations sought for absences due to the observance of a religious holiday can be sought either prior or after the absence, but not later than two working days after the absence. Legitimate circumstances include religious holidays, illness, serious family emergencies and participation in group activities sponsored by the University, etc. See http://student-rules.tamu.edu/rule07 for additional information.
All assignments are due on their due date at the specified time (or end of business, i.e., 5 pm, if unspecified). Unexcused late work will be penalized by a 7.5 percentage point deduction for each 24hrs your work is late (see exception for Discussion Poiunts). For example, if you hand in the assignment on the same day it is due, but after the specified time, your maximum score will be 92.5%. If you hand in your assignment more than 24hrs late, e.g., 5:00 pm the next day, your maximum score will be 85%, after 48hrs it would be 77.5%, and so on. Late work will be excused only in the case of university-excused absences. Only under special circumstances will I make exceptions to these rules.
Students that want to appeal a grade received on an exam or assignment must submit a regrading request in written form (e.g., email). This request has to be turned in within five working days after the graded exams or assignments are returned to the class. The written statement must explain exactly why the student believes the current grade is incorrect. I will then regrade the entire assignment extra carefully. NOTE, as a consequence your grade may go up or down.
The best place to ask questions is in the classroom. If your question is not related to class material or relevant to other students, we can discuss it after class. You can generally expect me to reply to emails within 24 hours during the work week.
I encourage all of you to visit my office hours to discuss any difficulties with the readings, class, or your assignments/research.
All discussions will remain confidential. Texas A&M University is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. If you experience barriers to your education due to a disability or think you may have a disability, please contact Disability Resources in the Student Services Building or at (979) 845-1637 or visit https://disability.tamu.edu/ . Disabilities may include, but are not limited, to attentional, learning, mental health, sensory, physical, or chronic health conditions. All students are encouraged to discuss their disability related needs with Disability Resources and their instructors as soon as possible.
Texas A&M University and the College of Liberal Arts are committed to fostering a learning environment that is safe and productive for all. University policies and federal and state laws provide guidance for achieving such an environment. Although class materials are generally considered confidential pursuant to student record policies and laws, University employees – including instructors – cannot maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues that jeopardize the health and safety of our community. As the instructor, I must report (per Texas A&M System Regulation 08.01.01) the following information to other University offices if you share it with me, even if you do not want the disclosed information to be shared: Allegations of sexual assault, sexual discrimination, or sexual harassment when they involve TAMU students, faculty, or staff, or third parties visiting campus. These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. In many cases, it will be your decision whether or not you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting, you are encouraged to make an appointment with the Student Counseling Service https://scs.tamu.edu/. Students and faculty can report non-emergency behavior that causes them to be concerned at http://tellsomebody.tamu.edu.
The Department of Political Science supports the Texas A&M University commitment to diversity, and welcomes individuals from any racial, ethnic, religious, age, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, and nationality. (See https://diversity.tamu.edu/). In the spirit of this vital commitment, in this course each voice in the classroom has something of value to contribute to all discussions. Everyone is expected to respect the different experiences, beliefs and values expressed by fellow students and the instructor, and will engage in reasoned discussion that refrains from derogatory comments about other people, cultures, groups, or viewpoints.
I reserve the right to update/modify/clarify the syllabus with advance notification.
The most recent version of the syllabus will always be available on my website at: http://fhollenbach.github.io/Pols627_2020.
Introduction Political Economy