Courses Winter Semester 2015 2016

Political Impacts of Information Technology

Prof. Dr. Nils B. Weidmann

Tuesdays 13:30 - 15:00, C 421

The digital age is fundamentally transforming our society. This course examines the political effects of information- and communication technology (ICT), with a particular focus on political mobilization in non-democratic countries. We start with an introduction to the technology behind cellphone and Internet communications, in order to develop a basic understanding of how they work. Next, we discuss different ways in which this technology affects political mobilization. Last, we give particular attention to empirical tests that can (or cannot) let us gauge these hypothesized effects. The course requires a good background in research design and quantitative methods.

Introduction to The Study of Civil War

Prof. Dr. Nils B. Weidmann, Sabine Otto

Thursdays, 10:00 - 11:30, C 422

This course offers a comprehensive introduction to the literature on civil war, with a focus on recent quantitative work. Starting with a discussion of concepts and definitions, the course proceeds along four major perspectives:  i) country-level studies that compare the occurrence of civil war across countries, (ii) subnational approaches focusing on groups as conflict actors, (iii) trans-national perspectives dealing with crossborder impacts on civil wars, and (iv) micro-level studies focusing on the dynamics of recruitment and  the production of violence in civil wars. It is required that students have completed an introductory course in quantitative methodology.


Prof. Dr. Nils B. Weidmann

Thursdays, 13:30-15:00, C 426

This colloquium is intended for Bachelor and Master students writing their thesis on topics related to violent and non-violent conflict and contention. The goals of the colloquium are for students to obtain feedback on their project and research progress, both theoretical and methodological, and to build up skills in scientific presentation and discussion. For the latter, we will emulate a conference setting, where students act both as presenters and discussants.

Data Sources in Political Science

Dr. Johannes Vüllers

Mondays, 15:15 - 16:45, C 421

Political scientists make use of different types of data sources in empirical studies. This course provides an introduction in the methodological challenges and opportunities of different data sources for qualitative and quantitative research design. The first part of the course offers an introduction to the relevant methodological aspects regarding the use of data sources and an introduction to (historical) source analysis. In the second part, the course examines the use of different data sources (e.g. newspapers, cartoons, satellite images, archive material, interviews) for qualitative and quantitative research. We discuss problems and potentials on the basis of data sources collected by the students for their own research. The course requires a good background in research design. Part of the course will be a visit to the city archive of Konstanz.

State Capacity: Conceptual and Empirical Challenges

Dr. Johannes Vüllers

Mondays, 08:00 - 09:45, C 252

The concept of state capacity has changed during the last decades. New actors have emerged who are willing and able to perform state tasks in the societies. The seminar offers an introduction into classical concepts of state capacity. It focuses on three dimensions of state capacity: (i) political institutions, (ii) security and (iii) economic/wealth. We discuss the capability of non-state actors (e.g. companies, rebels) and international actors (e.g. UN, IMF) to undertake the classical tasks of the state in the three dimensions.