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MIT Political Science January 2020 IAP Offerings

MIT Department of Political Science

From exploring civil military relations, science and technology public policy making, or building a movement, we have the bootcamp or class for the policy-minded learner!

Clara Vandeweerdt: The power of group think

Leda Zimmerman MIT Political Science

While many people might find it difficult if not downright distasteful to dive into 1.5 million hours of partisan talk radio, Clara Vandeweerdt found it thrilling.

A look at Japan’s evolving intelligence efforts

Peter Dizikes MIT News

Once upon a time — from the 1600s through the 1800s — Japan had a spy corps so famous we know their name today: the ninjas, intelligence agents serving the ruling Tokugawa family.

What makes for better bureaucracy?

Leda Zimmerman MIT Political Science

Civil servants and the political systems in which they are entrenched don't normally get much love. Charged with essential public service missions such as providing working infrastructure, effective schools and vital healthcare, bureaucrats often earn low marks. But new research by Guillermo Toral and Tugba Bozcaga, political science doctoral candidates, may begin to change perceptions.

Prof. Narang receives the ISSS "Emerging Scholar" award

MIT Department of Political Science

We are pleased to announce that Associate Professor Vipin Narang has won this year’s “Emerging Scholar” award from the International Studies Association’s International Security Section.

Looking under the surface of politics in Latin America

Peter Dizikes MIT News

Danny Hidalgo’s research involves looking under the surface of elections and political campaigns, and probing some of their questionable elements. It turns out there’s a lot to see down there.

News and Views

Peter Dizikes MIT News

MIT study finds partisan news coverage has a bigger impact on viewers without strong media preferences.

Devin Caughey receives 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


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.


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.