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Micro-dynamics of Political and Criminal Violence

(POL 669, Spring 2019, graduate)

This seminar aims at exposing graduate students to the state-of-the-art research on political and organized criminal violence. To do so, the seminar has a deliberate interdisciplinary approach integrating scholarship on conflict, economics, geography, political psychology, and criminology to disentangle the micro-dynamics of political violence and organized crime. The micro-dynamic approach of this seminar will largely depart from country-year unit of analysis and dive into the subnational or individual level of analysis. At the seminar, we will engage in a collective intellectual endeavor to analyze each assigned reading in depth. The discussions will pay particular attention on the theoretical and conceptual contributions and debates, as well as on the empirical innovations and identification strategies in the field. These discussions will help graduate students to identify gaps in the literature as well as emerging niches that might motivate their own research agenda.

This hands-on workshop is designed to introduce graduate students to the use of LaTeX editor. After successfully completing this workshop, students will be able to:

1. Write their own academic papers using LaTeX.
2. Develop their own academic presentation slides using LaTeX.


Politics of International Security

(at John Jay)

(POL 328, Spring 2016, undergraduate)

The second half of the twentieth century has been marked by violence, bloodshed, and political upheaval. The primary source of this wave of violence is not international warfare between rival states, but internal political violence affecting a variety of governments across the globe. This course is designed to introduce students to the comparative study of civil wars. The objective of the course is devoted to understanding (1) key social, economic and political causes of civil war onset; (2) identifying the main tendencies in the conduct of civil wars; and (3) gaining factual knowledge about specific case studies. The course will cover topics such as the onset of civil wars, natural resources, political instability, recruitment strategies, rebel organization, child soldiering, lethality and tactics of violence, duration and termination. At the end of this course, students will have a solid understanding of the determinants and characteristics of civil wars from a comparative perspective. The course is structured as a seminar, and we will engage in a collective and critical discussion about the main findings, debates, strengths and limitations of different ideas and methodologies for studying civil war.

Colloquium on Research in Government and Politics (at John Jay)

 (POL 409, Spring 2016, undergraduate)

This course offers the opportunity for students to design and conduct their own independent research. As such, this course inverts the traditional instructor-student relationship. Instead of the professor being the main driver of the learning experience, students are expected to take the lead in their own learning and research process while the professor serves as a guide. The readings and assignments will guide the students through the challenges of formulating analytical research questions, proposing plausible arguments, evaluating scholarly research, developing concepts, identifying valid ways to measure them and assessing the advantages and limitations of different methodological approaches. Since both the policy and academic sectors rely heavily on quantitative analysis to support their claims and engage in evidence-based debates, this course will help students to acquire skills to conduct and interpret basic quantitative research. The final research paper will demonstrate the student's familiarity with relevant literature in the subfield, capability to engage in relevant academic or policy debates, mastery of basic concepts in the discipline, competence in advancing convincing explanations and providing solid empirical support, and capability to communicate effectively.

International Crime and Justice - Capstone Seminar

(at John Jay)

(ICJ 770, Fall 2015, graduate)

This course will synthesize the knowledge and perfect the skills gained throughout Masters coursework and allow students to compare and contrast the multidisciplinary perspectives gained throughout their studies. A core component of the course consists of conducting a series of quantitative studies on criminal behavior using data from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The research will concentrate on the following topics: comparative correlates of crime, homicides, criminal victimization, political institutions and economic indicators. In addition to a final academic paper, students will produce evidence-based policy briefs to be presented to UNODC officials.

Politics of Transnational Crime - Research Intensive

(at John Jay)

(POL 325, Fall 2015, undergraduate)

This course offers students the opportunity to explore the intriguing world of transnational organized crime from a rigorous methodological perspective combined with solid theoretical foundations. With a particular focus on drug-trafficking organizations in Latin America, the course will help students to develop analytical skills and acquire practical research experience in order to identify main trends and causes of drug-trafficking in the region. The course is divided in two sections. The first part overviews the main theoretical foundations and discusses key empirical challenges for analyzing transnational organized crime. The second section explores the characteristics and causes of drug trafficking in Latin America. In addition to acquiring substantive knowledge on the topic and on the region, this course includes a research component. As part of the course activities, we will build a database of the territorial presence of drug trafficking organizations in Latin America. To conduct this task, students will learn how to use specialized software for gathering, reformatting, and processing textual information from news reports in order to extract numeric data for quantitative analysis. This course is possible thanks to the support of the Research Intensive Course Design Award of the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Youtube channel with instructional videos (by Erick Alonzo)

Introduction to Comparative Politics

(at John Jay)

(POL 257, Spring 2015, undergraduate)

This course provides a broad overview of the main theoretical approaches in the subfield of comparative politics by focusing on important substantive questions about the world. The course is organized around six key questions. First, how can we understand the world from a comparative perspective? Second, how do nation states emerge? Third, why are there different types of political regimes? Fourth, what are the different types of political institutions in modern democracies? Fifth, why do people organize along social, ethnic or political identities? Sixth, why do people challenge the established political order? The course will expose students to the main theoretical arguments and debates answering these questions. In addition, the course assignments will allow students to gain substantive knowledge about specific cases.

Javier Osorio

Assistant Professor

School of Government and Public Policy

University of Arizona

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