Political Science | Comparative Politics: Researching Civil War
Y657 | 10671 | Sinno

Topic:  Researching Civil War

This course introduces you to the craft of researching intra-state
conflicts.  Intra-state conflicts include civil wars, wars of
liberation, secession, revolutions and ethnic conflicts.  We will
survey the general literature on the topic and discuss the different
methodological approaches currently in use to produce social
scientific knowledge in this area.
Substantive topics addressed include: Where and why do conflicts
erupt? How do they evolve? How long do they last? Who wins? How &
where could negotiated settlements be reached? What type of polity
will result from the conflict? Which conflicts justify outside
intervention? Does outside intervention work? Can outsiders build a
resilient state?
The methodological approaches we will explore in the context of
studying intra-state conflicts include the analytic narrative, the
case study, the comparative method, quantitative approaches, formal
modeling, agent-based modeling and combinations of the above.  You
are not expected to be an expert on any of the above approaches and
this course will not help you become one.  Instead it will help you
understand what each approach can offer and which one to invest in
to answer the questions that interest you.  We will also explore
some of the resources in the public domain (particularly datasets
and software) that could help you with your research.
You are expected to contribute to the discussion, write a few
reports that contribute to the collective learning effort, and write
an original research paper.  Some previous exposure to quantitative
methods would be helpful.