Recent Headlines

Devin Caughey recieves the Leon Epstein Award

MIT Department of Political Science

We are pleased to announce that Silverman (1968) Family Career Development Associate Professor Devin Caughey's book, The Unsolid South, has been awarded the Leon Epstein Outstanding Book Award by the Political Organizations and Parties Section of APSA.

David A. Singer named Head of MIT Political Science

Janine Sazinsky MIT Political Science

Melissa Nobles, the Kenan Sahin Dean of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has announced that David Singer is the new Head of the Department Political Science, effective July 1.

3 Questions: The social implications and responsibilities of computing

Peter Dizikes MIT News

Since February, five working groups have been generating ideas about the form and content of the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing. That includes the Working Group on Social Implications and Responsibilities of Computing, co-chaired by Melissa Nobles, the Kenan Sahin Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and a professor of political science, and Julie Shah, associate professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and head of the Interactive Robotics Group of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. MIT News talked to Shah about the group’s progress and goals to this point.

The (evolving) art of war

Peter Dizikes MIT News

In 1969, the Soviet Union moved troops and military equipment to its border with China, escalating tensions between the communist Cold War powers. In response, China created a new military strategy of “active defense” to repel an invading force near the border. There was just one catch: China did not actually implement its new strategy until 1980. Which raises a question: How could China have taken a full decade before shifting its military posture in the face of an apparent threat to its existence?

Caught between criminals and cops

Leda Zimmerman MIT Political Science

While investigating the impact of gang violence on Lagos, Nigeria, sixth-year political science doctoral candidate, Andrew Miller, came up with an innovative research tool: immersive, virtual reality videos.

Commerce and coercion

Leda Zimmerman MIT Political Science

"Those who study China see nationalism as a sort of narrative that the state actively creates, helping to create legitimacy for the [Communist] party," says Miura. She set out to learn whether all Chinese politics followed the central government's nationalist narrative.

A stage of their own

Leda Zimmerman MIT Political Science

For the approximately 70 political science graduate students, GSWIP serves as a training ground for preparing research, addressing colleagues and learning conference protocol. "It's a really good forum to observe the professional side of political science, including the etiquette of asking questions," says second-year PhD student Rorisang Lekalake, another GSWIP organizer.

Machine Anxiety

SHASS

The study of bureaucracy stands as a reminder not to dismiss human agency too rapidly. For all the fears it evoked about depersonalized rule, bureaucracy never eliminated human judgment. The same might be true for AI. This means that we need to investigate how individual and organizational actors mediate the adoption of new technologies, and how they are in turn transformed by them. This calls for empirical social science.

The role of Iraq’s influential Shiite clerics is changing. Here’s how.

Marsin Alshamary THE WASHINGTON POST

Graduate student Marsin Alshamary writes for The Washington Post about how the role of Iraq’s Shiite clerics is transforming. “Because their authority ultimately stems from the population, Shiite clerics will have to adapt to popular demands — which are now tending toward a secular state — or risk losing relevance,” writes Alshamary.

Mining a trove of text

Leda Zimmerman MIT DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

Few students boast as precocious a start in their field as Andrew Halterman.  At age seven, Halterman accompanied his mom, a political scientist, on a research trip to Bosnia. It was just a few months after the ceasefire in that region's civil war. "I learned all about the conflict and ethnic cleansing," he says. 

Looking at justice through the lens of political theory

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences MIT News

It’s a charged time to be talking about justice. But in Bernardo Zacka’s classroom, the concept of justice is center stage. An assistant professor of political science, Zacka is inclined to teach on topics that are much discussed in the current political climate — including power, inequality, and the challenges of collective action.

3 Questions: Stephen Van Evera revisits World War I

Michelle English Center for International Studies

One hundred years ago on Nov. 11, 1918, the Allied Powers and Germany signed an armistice bringing to an end World War I. That bloody conflict decimated Europe and destroyed three major empires (Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman). Its aftershocks still echo in our own times.

A bottom-up view of the state

Leda Zimmerman MIT Department of Political Science

An endless wait in a crowded room. The official's impassive expression handling a client in need...
Bernardo Zacka '05, a newly appointed assistant professor of political science, is well acquainted with exasperating and sometimes infuriating public service bureaucracies.

Alumni Books Podcast: Claiming the State

Joe McGonegal Slice of MIT

Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner MCP '06, PhD '13, assistant professor of politics and global studies at the University of Virginia, is the author of Claiming the State: Active Citizenship and Social Welfare in Rural India, published in August 2018 by Cambridge University Press. In the book, Kruks-Wisner shares research conducted over the past decade in Rajasthan, India about how those in conditions of poverty make claims on their local and state governments.

Refining the “science” of political science

Peter Dizikes MIT News

Political pundits are usually confident about their ability to identify why citizens think the way they do. Look at cable television or the internet, and you’ll find someone attributing an election result to economic anxiety, or claiming the latest polling numbers reflect a recent news story. Teppei Yamamoto has his doubts.

The aftermath of violence

Leda Zimmerman

Although Volha Charnysh initially distanced herself from her native land of Belarus, she has in recent years found reason to return to her Eastern European roots.

Tracking political interactions in the Philippines

Leda Zimmerman MIT Department of Political Science

Since starting her doctoral studies in 2013, Nina McMurry has logged more than two years of field work in the Philippines. It has sometimes been a slog—literally. "Some of the places we need to travel for data collection are pretty remote," she says. "This past summer, it was a particularly bad rainy season, and even when the boats were running from the mainland to our destination, it could take two or more hours for our survey teams to climb into the mountains, where roads were entirely flooded out."

3 Questions: Database shines a bright light on Washington lobbying

Peter Dizikes MIT News

Follow the money. It’s a famous phrase from the Watergate era, but it applies to everyday life in modern Washington as well. That advice just got easier for everyone to carry out, thanks to the launch of LobbyView.org, a new public database created by MIT political scientist In Song Kim

A passion for policy

Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT

While still an undergraduate at MIT, Luisa Kenausis ’17, co-founded MIT Students for Nuclear Arms Control. The organization’s goal: to raise awareness of nuclear arms control issues. As a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation this spring, Kenausis continued her work to raise public awareness of these issues.

Environmental regulation in a polarized culture

Fatima Husain MIT News

With an affinity for environmental issues and a knack for analysis, MIT doctoral student Parrish Bergquist aims to clarify the ways in which changing political landscapes influence environmental policy outcomes.