Summer Research College: Applications due February 21st!

The Department of Political Science is pleased to announce summer research positions for undergraduates. Participants will work directly with a faculty mentor for ten weeks and receive a $6,000 stipend. The program, which is part of the Summer Research College, is designed to foster close intellectual exchange by involving students in the ongoing research of Stanford professors.  Applications are due in February.

Eligibility: Participants must be current undergraduates at Stanford. Co-term students and seniors are eligible only if the bachelor’s degree will not be conferred before the end of the research appointment.

Expectations: Students will be expected to work 40 hours per week during the program. The program will run from June 23 through August 29, 2014. Students and faculty will present their collaborative research in a departmental colloquium.

Stipend: Each student will receive a stipend of $6,000 for ten weeks of full-time research work.

Restrictions: VPUE policy prohibits students from receiving both credit and pay for the same research activity. Students receiving full summer stipends may not register for more than 5 credits of coursework.

Housing: (For students who want to apply for on-campus summer housing) Room, board, house dues, and other academic expenses are paid by the student. Students are responsible for paying their university summer bill, which will include any other academic expenses incurred. Students may review the summer room and board rates on the Housing Assignment Services website.

How to Apply: Download the preference form and use it to express your preference regarding faculty mentors and research projects.  Please email the preference form, cover letters, resume, and unofficial transcript to paigeer [at] stanford [dot] edu (subject: Summer%20Research%20College) (Paige Ryan).  If your application is approved, someone will contact you to set up an interview. The department is only accepting applications via email.

Click here for cover letter guidelines   

Please submit applications via email to paigeer [at] stanford [dot] edu (subject: Summer%20Research%20College) .

Deadline: Friday, February 21 (students are encouraged to apply early)

Questions? Contact Paige Ryan, Political Science, Encina Hall West Room 100, phone 723-1908, email paigeer [at] stanford [dot] edu (subject: Summer%20Research%20College) .

2014 Summer Projects:
Click project title for more information about the project

Faculty MemberProject Title
Lisa BlaydesInside Iraqi Authoritarianism
James Fearon and David LaitinThe Rise and Fall of Empires:  Civil and "Small" Wars from 1816 to 1945
Steve HaberGeography, Politics, and the Wealth of Nations 
Jens HainmuellerAttitudes toward Austerity Policies in the European Economic Crisis
Karen JuskoCampaign Stops 
Jon KrosnickThe Psychology of Americans' Political Decisions
Terry Moe with Sarah AnziaThe Power of Public Sector Unions
Clayton NallThe Inequalities of American Transportation
Rob ReichOn Philanthropy and Democracy 
Scott SaganPublic Opinion and Nuclear Weapons Use: Just War Doctrine in the Contemporary World
Ken Scheve Equal Sacrifice? Two Centuries of Taxing the Rich
Ken SchultzMapping Separatist Conflict
Michael TomzPolitical Campaigns and Policy Debates

Project Descriptions:

Inside Iraqi Autoritarianism
Professor Lisa Blaydes

Relatively little scholarship has sought to explain the mechanics of authoritarian control in the world's most repressive regimes.  Determining the specificities of everyday political life in one of the 20th century's most notorious dictatorships – Iraq under Saddam Hussein – is possible as a result of the recent availability of internal security force and Ba`th party documents recovered upon the overthrow of the Iraqi regime in 2003. This project will examine the institutions of coercion under Saddam Hussein.  We will map the various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies organized for political control and consider the challenges faced by Iraqi citizens who were forced to live in the shadow of the state repressive apparatus.  The research assistant will compile databases from bureaucratic records and research incidents in recent Iraqi history.  Arabic language skills and familiarity with ArcGIS are a plus but not required.


The Rise and Fall of Empires:  Civil and "Small" Wars from 1816 to 1945
Professor James Fearon and David Laitin

Professors James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin seek undergraduate RA’s in the context of the Department of Political Science’s Summer Research College. The research project – entitled “The Persistence of Violent Conflict” -- entails an extension of the Fearon/Laitin statistical analysis of civil war onsets since 1945 published in the American Political Science Review in 2003. The research question is whether violent conflicts in years going back to the 15th century that were fought on a particular territory are associated with higher likelihood of civil war onsets in the post World War II era on that same territory. RA’s will read historical accounts of violent conflict to help extend an existing dataset allowing for tests of the persistence hypothesis. They will code each conflict from that dataset as to precisely where it was fought, both in terms of today’s country boundaries and geocoded to test for whether there is a geographic foundation for persistent warfare. RA’s will work 40 hours per week and meet regularly in a lab setting with the two professors and several graduate students. Preference will be given to students with experience in statistical coding, reading ability in foreign languages, and a keen interest in history. 


Geography, Politics, and the Wealth of Nations
Professor Steve Haber

This project examines the hypothesis that fundamental geographic characteristics pushed some regions of the world down paths of institutional development associated with trade, economic specialization, and investments in human capital, while the geographic characteristics of other regions pushed them down paths of institutional development that led to autarky, self-sufficiency, low levels of human capital, rurality, low incomes, and authoritarianism. Students engaged in this project will work with Prof. Haber and a post-doc.  Students will be involved in building the datasets about river navigability using pre-steamship technology.  In order to do so, they will use historical sources as well as google maps, Excel, Stata, and GIS software.  


Attitudes toward Austerity Policies in the European Economic Crisis
Professor Jens Hainmueller 

This project will collect survey data from multiple European countries to examine voters’ responses to the current Eurocrisis, in particular the financial bailouts and austerity policies. The survey will be administered both in donor and recipient countries and conducted in multiple languages. Key research questions include: Why do some voters oppose or support the bailouts and austerity policies? Who are Keynesians or Monetarists? What determines whether voters prefer an austerity or a spending solution to get out of the crisis? How do these responses vary depending on the context and severity of the crisis? The research assistant will help with several aspects of the questionnaire design, survey implementation, and data analysis. Applicants should highlight any programming skills that they have as well as courses taken in economics, statistics, or public opinion. Language skills are valued (Greek, Spanish, French).


Campaign Stops 
Professor Karen Jusko

How do parties and candidates allocate their campaign resources within their electoral districts? How does this vary with the composition of their district? This project will build detailed histories and maps of congressional campaigns. As part of the research team, a Summer Research College student will begin to build data-sets of campaign events, using a new archive of all candidate websites and press releases, for all candidates who will compete in the 2014 primary and general elections. SRC students will work through the archive of websites and campaign press releases, and record the details of all campaign events. Interested applicants should demonstrate good organization and data management skills, and should have successfully completed coursework in the Department of Political Science, or in the International Relations program. Although not required, applicants with experience in “big" data management, analysis of text, general programming, and ArcGIS software are especially encouraged to apply for this position.

The Psychology of Americans' Political Decisions 
Professor Jon Krosnick

Political psychology is an exciting interdisciplinary enterprise blending psychology with the study of politics.  The Political Psychology Research Group at Stanford is a large team of undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, visiting scholars, and staff exploring all these issues to generate academic publications and to write white papers to disseminate research findings to the non-academic community.  You would join this group and work closely with Professor Jon Krosnick (Professor of Communication, Political Science, and Psychology).

This summer, the team will be working on a variety of projects.  One will explore what the American public thinks about global warming and what they want the federal government to do on the issue.  In his inauguration speech in January, 2013, President Obama made a commitment to pursue federal policy to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions by the U.S.  He made a similar promise in 2008, but despite efforts to pass major legislation through Congress, the President was unable to generate the needed votes in 2009.  His administration will be taking a new approach this term, and our team will be tracking American reactions to the effort and the messages that Americans send to their elected representatives as the process unfolds.

We will also be conducting statistical analysis of survey data and experiments conducted in recent years exploring the forces guiding Americans' views on issues related to climate change.  And we will be conducting more general investigations into the forces that inspire some people to vote in national elections while others decline to participate, and the forces that shape voters' candidate choices.

No special background is necessary for an undergrad to join our team, although comfort with mathematical/statistical write-ups and some experience with statistics would help allow you to take on more challenging tasks.  This job is just right for students interested in close collaboration with a faculty member and a fun and challenging summer.  Students who have statistical skills may be able to conduct original analyses of existing data to write papers for publication.

The Power of Public Sector Unions
Professor Terry Moe, (with Professor Sarah Anzia, Berkeley) 

The division of labor across students will depend on who we hire and what their skills are.  One student’s job (and perhaps both) will involve helping us find the kinds of data we are looking for—on, say, pensions or retiree health benefits or state legislation—and then to download the relevant data and create Excel and Stata data sets.  The “finding” part will often involve internet searches, but it may also involve calling state, county, or city offices, or perhaps public sector unions or nonprofit research organizations, to track down data.  The creation of data sets will involve working with Excel, so it will help if the student is already familiar with it—although Excel is not difficult to learn.  The Stata data sets can be generated automatically (via Stat Transfer) from the Excel data sets, so it is not necessary for the student to know Stata in advance of the project.  But it would be helpful if the student is good on the computer and a fast learner in picking up new skills.  The other student may engage in similar research activities, so computer skills would be very helpful.  But this student may well be focusing much more on internet searches that are about the sorts of substantive topics listed above (pensions, etc.)—exploring recent and not-so-recent news stories, reports, and scholarly books and articles, and in general helping us understand what the major issues and developments are and how they have been dealt with in the existing literature. 


The Inequalities of American Transportation
Professor Clayton Nall

I am seeking two students to contribute to an ongoing project that examines the distributive politics of transportation projects in the United States in both historical and contemporary perspective.  Students will work on two major efforts to better understand how and where transportation projects are built, and to quantify the consequences of these projects for served (and bypassed) communities.

The first of these projects is an effort to assemble, for the first time, a geographic database of the construction and expansion of the US highway system from the 1930s to the present.  Students will become geographic information system (GIS) experts as they work on a project to convert historical paper maps from Stanford’s map collection into usable geospatial data that will be used in several research projects.  The second project exploits more recent data.  We will be using several years of Google Transit data to examine how metropolitan transit systems may exacerbate or mitigate residential racial segregation.   Students will do a combination of data collection (in libraries, online, and through phone inquiries) and GIS work on both of these projects.

All students with an interest in the study of urban politics, transportation, geography, or American politics are encouraged to apply.  While previous experience with GIS and some coursework math or statistics would be appreciated, students will be provided training in ArcGIS, R, and other project-specific skills. 


On Philanthropy and Democracy
Professor Rob Reich

I have multiple research projects underway on the relationship between philanthropy and democracy. For more detail, see my webpage, and also The research assistant will contribute to one or more of these projects.  Preferred skills: knowledge of Zotero (or willingness to learn), exceptional analytical and synthetic writing skills, capacity for independent work in the context of a team.


Public Opinion and Nuclear Weapons Use: Just War Doctrine in the Contemporary World 
Professor Scott Sagan

Professor Scott D. Sagan requests the assistance of two undergraduate student researchers for the summer of 2014. The summer research assistants will work as a team to help Professor Sagan with research for the following projects:

A)    Public Opinion and Nuclear Weapons Use: This project investigates public attitudes towards nuclear weapons use. The research aims to identify the conditions under which the U.S. public and publics in other key nuclear states might support the use of nuclear weapons in realistic conflict scenarios. Research will involve reading and preparing summaries of scholarly articles, government documents, and opinion surveys on nuclear weapons policy and use. Special attention will be paid to Indian and Israeli nuclear doctrine and public opinion towards nuclear use in those countries.

B)    Just War Doctrine in the Contemporary World: This research examines how the public weighs just war doctrine’s “principle of proportionality”—specifically, the trade-offs between reducing non-combatant casualties, achieving military objectives, and limiting the loss of military lives—in decisions to support the use of force against military targets. Research assistants will review government documents and scholarly works on the ethics and laws of war to determine how military leaders interpret these laws in targeting decisions and how the public might weigh ethical considerations in decisions to support the use of force.

The summer research assistants will be expected to work 40 hours per week. They will conduct research using Stanford libraries, web-based resources, e-journals, and government documents. Research assistants will be asked to produce short memos every week based on original, analytic work. Professor Sagan will meet with the research assistants approximately twice per week to discuss these memos.

No prior social science research experience is required, but assistants should have experience preparing footnotes and bibliographies. Preference will be given to students who have taken POLISCI 1: Introduction to International Relations, MS&E 193: Technology and National Security, and/or Thinking Matters 19: Rules of War. 


Mapping Separatist Conflict 
Professor Ken Schultz

Research assistance is needed for a project on mapping separatist conflicts within states, both contemporary and historical.  The project seeks to develop digital maps of contested territories for use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. Such maps will be used to better understand the origins and extent of separatist claims, the characteristics of the territories that do (and do not) become the subject of such claims, and the effects of contested control on political and economic development.  Research assistance is needed for a variety of tasks including (1) identifying and collecting maps and other documents that describe in detail groups’ territorial claims, (2) using GIS software to convert this information into digital maps, and (3) collecting additional physical and demographic data about the disputed regions.  Training in the use of GIS software will be provided, but applicants should demonstrate a willingness and ability to master new computer programs.  Strong library research skills and attentiveness to detail are a must. Foreign language skills would be useful but are not required.


Equal Sacrifice? Two Centuries of Taxing the Rich 
Professor Ken Scheve

This project examines the determinants of income and wealth tax policies in twenty countries over two centuries. The research investigates what explains the extraordinary variation across time and across countries in the extent to which individuals with high incomes and wealth have been taxed. The research assistant will focus on gathering and analyzing textual data about the types of arguments employed in tax debates from the 19th century to the present. The focus of the research will be on tax debates in English speaking countries but additional language skills are valued. Applicants should also highlight any programming skills that they have as well as courses taken in economics and statistics.


Political Campaigns and Policy Debates
Professor Michael Tomz

Professor Tomz is assembling a team of students to assist with research about political campaigns. The project focuses on how candidates communicate their policy positions to voters and how voters respond to those messages. For instance, do voters prefer candidates who take precise stands instead of making vague statements? Do voters want candidates to sign pledges, and how do voters react when candidates break pledges or flip-flop on policy issues? Students who participate in this project will engage in three research activities: (1) analyzing the policy positions that U.S. presidential candidates have taken in debates and campaign speeches from the 1940s to the present; (2) analyzing press coverage of recent presidential campaigns; and (3) using data from public opinion polls to study what voters think about the policy positions of candidates. This project is just right for students who are interested in American politics, want to learn about research methods, and enjoy working in teams.