Introduction to Comparative Politics

Comparative politics is the study of countries' domestic political institutions, behavior and policies. This course focuses on two main questions that are central to the field: (1) how do democratic countries around the world vary in their political institutions and why do these differences matter; and (2) how do governments respond to the demands of their citizenry? To understand and evaluate debates on these questions, students will learn the vocabulary and methods of the discipline and discuss the science of comparative political science research. The goal of the course is to not just acquaint students with the debates on these issues, but to equip them to think like social scientists and reach their own reasoned conclusions.


Introduction to International Relations

"Professor Leiby is very enthusiastic about the material and that makes class so much more enjoyable and beneficial. She is extremely approachable and helpful with individual feedback both about this specific course and academics/paths available at Wooster in general."

This course introduces some of the main theoretical approaches to the study of international relations, including relaism, liberalism, Marxism, feminism and constructivism. The course reviews key concepts such as nationalism, balance of power, deterrence, sovereignty and collective goods and applies them to substantive areas of study in the field, including international conflict and peace, international law and organizations and international political economy.


Human Rights and Political Violence

This class will celebrate the successes and advancements of human rights initiatives around the world, while studying the areas in which progress has been slow or backslides have occurred. It will focus on questions such as: What are human rights? Are they universal or culturally determined? Why do governments sometimes violate the basic rights and fundamental freedoms of their own people? How do societies move on after mass atrocity? Each of the above research questions will be paired with an in-depth case study. Topics for discussion include: torture during the Global War on Terrorism, wartime sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, election-related violence in Iraq and Iran and land rights of indigenous communities in the Americas. By the end of the semester, students will have increased their empirical knowledge of human rights around the world, as well as the theoretical and methodological obstacles to the scientific analysis of human rights.


Contemporary Politics in Latin America

"...She is so knowledgeable about the topic and very willing to help students grasp the topic of human rights. I will be recommending her to my peers."

"She really knows and understands the topics we discussed. She worked hard to get students to participate. She was very helpful when I went to her office hours. ...I will definitely recommend her as a professor! Also, I would encourage others to take this class."

In the past 25 years, Latin America has made a remarkable transition from authoritarian to democratic rule and from a state-led economic development strategy to a market-orientated strategy. For some Latin Americans, these political and economic changes have created opportunities to improve their standard of living; for others, however, they have resulted in great social upheaval. This course will study the political, economic and social changes that have taken place in the region since the 1980s. Particular attention will be paid to theories and processes of democratization and economic growth, poverty and social welfare in the region, and citizen demands for inclusion and political representation. Students will leave the class with a greater appreciation of the region and the ability to make informed and reasoned arguments about a wide variety of political and social issues facing contemporary Latin America.


Politics of Developing Countries

This course examines the main problems confronting developing countries, the political tools and strategies used for addressing them, and their relative success and failure given the constraints of the international economic and political order. The problems of developing countries are examined in the light of modernization, dependency, world systems, political-cultural and institutional theories, selecting case studies from all major parts of the developing world.


Research Methods and Design

How do political scientists know what they think they know? This course is an introduction to the variety of tools used to conduct empirical research in political science. We begin by considering what it means to be “scientific” and the assumptions behind a scientific approach to political inquiry. Then we turn to issues of research design and measurement and explore various qualitative and quantitative methods employed in political science. We will learn about conducting interviews, case studies, experimental research, surveys, archival research content analysis and more. Finally, we will examine some statistical procedures for describing the subjects of political inquiry and for drawing inferences about them. Along the way, students will identify an empirically testable research question of interest to them within the discipline of political science, situate it within the academic literature, construct a theoretical argument and a testable hypothesis and develop a research design to test that hypothesis.