It is our belief that issues of democratic politics lie at the core of many of the basic research questions in the social sciences. They led to the creation of political culture theory, seminal investigations into personality and political psychology, the landmark studies of electoral decision making, attempts to understand the nature and consequences of political institutions, processes of modernization, and the principles of the democratic process itself. If anything, the centrality of these interests has increased because of recent world events. At the same time, however, scholarship on these fundamental questions has lagged in recent decades because of the increasing fragmentation and specialization of social science disciplines.

Based on this perspective, we have designed a multi-year program that develops an integrative approach to social science training by focusing on democratization as a core theme. Rather than building walls between islands of theory, our goal is to build bridges that span the necessary knowledge and training. The objective is to produce Ph.D. students who are equipped to meet these important scholarly questions, and to apply this knowledge to strengthening and improving the democratic process.

There are five components of the training program. First, formal coursework through a seminar series on democratization and democratic politics. This curriculum is based on a two year sequence of graduate seminars on empirical democratic theory. This is supplemented by an extensive list of optional courses related to the theme of democracy. The most important feature in our curriculum is its breadth of intellectual coverage. The coursework is interdisciplinary in scope, including political science, sociology, and political psychology; the graduate seminars and training program mentors include faculty from the Department of Political Science and the Department of Sociology. Moreover, we have included diverse academic perspectives into the program. The faculty include specialists on public choice, behavioral research, world systems analysis, political psychology, and a central core of political theory.

Second, faculty mentorship provides individual guidance and involves students in on-going research projects. Each fellow has a mentor who provides counseling and course advice during the first years of study. Beyond these mentoring and advising activities, during the second year of study each trainee will conduct an individual research project under the direction of their faculty mentor.

Third, participation in a multidisciplinary seminar on democratization brings together faculty and trainees, broadens exposure to the field, and provides a forum for testing ideas and honing presentation skills. In 2004-05 the series hosted J. Craig Jenkins, Alfred Stepan, William Zimmerman, and other distinguished guests. In 2005-06 the series hosted Robert Albritton, Morris Fiorina, Hans-Dieter Klingemann, Doug McAdam, and Holly McCammon.

Fourth, a teaching/research practicum prepares students for their future careers as university teachers and scholars.

Fifth, we encourage extensive fieldwork experience as part of the thesis development and data collection. Trainees must fulfill other Ph.D. requirements in their department. At the end of their training, students will receive either a PhD in political science or sociology.
 
 

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