Recent Headlines

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, 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.

3Q: Barry Posen on the NATO Summit and state of the alliance

Michelle English MIT News/Center for International Studies

Barry Posen, a leading national security expert and Cold War historian, offers in-depth scholarship on the historic meetings. Posen, a Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the MIT Security Studies Program,  discusses the role of NATO today, and whether the alliance is “stronger than ever,” as President Trump stated in a post-summit press conference.

Solidarity and separatism

Leda Zimmerman

Doctoral student Elissa Berwick listens closely to the calls for independence rising from regions around the world.

Research on Religion Podcast: Richard Nielsen on Deadly Clerics

Research on Religion

Political rebellion and violence in the Middle East has recently been associated with religious belief and rhetoric, often spurred on by the writings and recordings of Muslim clerics. What motivates imams to advocate such tactics? Prof. Richard Nielsen, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, answers this question with reference to previous theories of revolution and an examination of the career paths of imams who advocate violent jihad. 

3 Questions: Vipin Narang on the North Korea summits

Michelle English Center for International Studies

An historic April 27 summit between Moon Jae-in, president of South Korea, and Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of North Korea, has been lauded as a path to peace for the divided peninsula as well as a tipping point of the North Korean nuclear crisis. But what concrete actions should we expect from the meeting between Kim and Moon? And how will this affect the forthcoming summit between President Trump and Kim? MIT nuclear strategy expert Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science and a member its Security Studies Program, weighs-in with his observations, underscoring that rhetoric is key.

People Power

Peter Dizikes MIT News

In politics, your voices make a difference. At least at the state level of U.S. politics, that is. A new study co-authored by an MIT political scientist shows that state policies in the U.S. from 1936 through 2014 have been responsive to public opinion — and have become even more aligned with it in recent decades.

Richard Nielsen on Deadly Clerics

The Baylor Institute for Studies on Religion

Political rebellion and violence in the Middle East has recently been associated with religious belief and rhetoric, often spurred on by the writings and recordings of Muslim clerics.  What motivates imams to advocate such tactics? 

Work of the future and the future of work for women in political science

Leda Zimmerman MIT Political Science

After a 30-year career focused on the economic institutions of wealthy democracies, Kathleen Thelen, Ford Professor of Political Science, has recently begun carving out time from her globe-hopping schedule to pursue compelling opportunities closer to home.


War on the Rocks

Why are so many people at odds over low-yield nuclear weapons? Listen to this fierce debate between Frank Miller – a long-suffering veteran of the Pentagon and nuclear strategy, Dr. Olga Oliker of CSIS and a longtime observer and scholar of Russian nuclear and military doctrine, and Vipin Narang – a professor at MIT and, most importantly, a War on the Rocks senior editor. Co-hosts Ryan Evans and Usha Sahay did their best to moderate this high-yield debate about low-yield nukes. Get ready for the fallout.

Vote of Confidence

Kara Baskin Spectrum

The MIT Election Data and Science Lab (MEDSL), launched in January 2017, champions the efficiency, integrity, and transparency of the democratic process

Sizing up the North Korea Showdown

Peter Dizikes MIT Technology Review

Are North Korea’s recent missile tests—and President Trump’s outspoken response to Kim Jong Un—moving us closer to war? For insight, MIT Technology Review spoke with Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science, author of Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era, and a leading analyst of the nuclear tactics of smaller states.

When the media is in on the experiment

With a readership that runs into the millions, few would argue that the New York Times doesn’t influence public debate on a host of issues. But what about a news outlet with a circulation of only about 50,000?

Why some Muslim clerics become jihadists

Peter Dizikes MIT News Office

What turns people into radical jihadist clerics? A new book by an MIT political scientist offers a new answer: thwarted career ambitions.

An American in Paris

Leda Zimmerman MIT Political Science

Moving to another country often sparks serious thinking about identity and belonging. This is doubly true for Dekeyser: She is an American in Paris, on a multi-year research project investigating the ways Islam shapes people’s sense of citizenship and allegiance to the French state.

Jesse L. White, Jr. (1979) endows fellowship fund

Leda Zimmerman

Mississippi native Jesse L. White Jr. PhD ’79 came to MIT with the aim of understanding voting behavior in his home state and gaining a broader perspective on the world. As a political science doctoral student, he found what he was looking for: “Growing up in a very provincial environment, going to a world-class institution was life-altering,” White says. “I feel like I owe so much to MIT.”

Mens et Manus America examines election integrity

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Various concerns about the security of U.S. elections have arisen over the past two decades, some more significant than others. While many studies have shown that voter fraud, for instance, is vanishingly rare in the U.S., what about the state of electoral administration, lost votes, and cyberattacks? On Oct. 16, two experts teamed up at MIT to share insights from their research on what is and isn't working in America's electoral system.

Professor Nazli Choucri discusses sustainable development and violence on Peace Talks Radio

Host: Suzanne Kryder Peace Talks Radio

Could we be trying to increase peace through speech or action, but forget about the planet’s ability to handle population growth? Peace Talks Radio discuss the impact of
population on peace and what people can do about it with Dr. Nazli Choucri, Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and John Seager, President and CEO of Population Connection.

Uber a 'shared shock' around the world that created a perfect experiment

Mary Beth Faller, ASU Now ASU Now

The ride-sharing platform Uber burst onto the scene a few years ago, creating a “shared shock” in several countries at about the same time with its disruptive practices. And that makes it the perfect natural experiment. “For a comparative political scientist like me who likes to study how things work across different countries, Uber is a wonderful case because it spread quickly across the globe,” said Kathleen Thelen, the Ford Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bridging the Science Policy Divide

Fatima Husain MIT News

In the eighth grade, in response to being asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Talia Weiss critically examined her aspirations and gathered them into one succinct statement: “I wanted to be a writer, dancer, and an astrophysicist,” she recalls. Weiss, now an MIT senior majoring in physics, can comfortably say she’s stuck to her goals, save for a little variation.

The Political Rumor Mill

Scholars Strategy Network/No Jargon

Political rumors are spreading across the country and the widening divide between parties is only making them more potent. Professor Adam Berinsky discusses where these rumors come from and what, if anything, can be done to combat them.

International Policy Lab issues new call for proposals

Dan Pomeroy, International Policy Lab

The International Policy Lab (IPL) within the Center for International Studies has issued its third Institute-wide call for proposals. The IPL helps leading MIT researchers develop the policy implications of their research and better inform the policymaking community in the United States and abroad. It provides funding and staff support for translating scholarly work into digestible, policy-relevant materials and for direct outreach to policymakers.

Probing the behavior of an international “bully”

Leda Zimmerman MIT Political Science

Although she grew up in a family of Communist Party stalwarts, Ketian Vivian Zhang never felt entirely at home in China’s patriotic education system. “I learned that the world was less black and white than the Party made it out to be,” says Zhang, a doctoral student in political science. By the time she was in high school, she was actively seeking alternative perspectives on China and its role in the world.