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Summer Research College

Davenport Teaching Summer Research College

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 $7,500 stipend. Summer Research College is designed to foster close intellectual exchange by involving students in the ongoing research of Stanford professors.


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.


Students will be expected to work 40 hours per week during the program. The program will run from June 24 through August 30, 2019. Students and faculty will present their collaborative research in lunchtime seminars that will take place twice per week. You are expected to attend each seminar.


Each student will receive a stipend of $7,500 for ten weeks of full-time research work.


The department does not offer course credit for Summer Research College. You are only eligible to receive the full Summer stipend. Students planning to take Summer courses may not enroll in courses that exceed 5 credits and must get prior approval from the faculty member with whom they are working.


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 Becca Hall.  If your application is approved, someone will contact you to set up an interview. The department is only accepting applications via email.

Click for cover letter guidelines.   

Please submit applications via email (in PDF form) to


Wednesday, February 6, 2019. (students are encouraged to apply early)


2019 Summer Research Opportunities 

Click each project title for more information.

Lisa Blaydes Chinese-Middle Eastern Trade from the Silk Road to the "Belt and Road" Initiative
Emilee Chapman On the Value of Elections and Voting
Martha Crenshaw Mapping Militant Organizations
Judith Goldstein Uncovering the Secrets of Side Letters
Erica Gould The Promises and the Pitfalls of Multilateral Development Bank Accountability Mechanisms
Jens Hainmueller, David Laitin, and Jeremy Weinstein Immigration Policy Lab
Andy Hall and Justin Grimmer How Election Administration Rules Affect Voter Turnout
Shanto Iyengar The Politics of Divorce
Hakeem Jefferson Respectability and the Politics of Punishment among Black Americans
Colin Kahl America, the Middle East, and Grand Strategy After 9/11
Jon Krosnick The Psychology of Americans' Political Decisions
Margaret Levi Creating the Framework for a New Moral Political Economy
Beatriz Magaloni Citizen Trust and Evidence-Based Police Accountability and Professionalization in Mexico
Alison McQueen A Political Thinker in Dark Times: Thomas Hobbes’s Changing Religious and Political Arguments
Clayton Nall The Ideological Contradictions of NIMBYism: Explaining Local Opposition to Affordable Housing
Norman Naimark Soviet POWs in Nazi Camps: The Issue of Genocide
Scott Sagan Ethics, Nuclear Weapons, and Public Opinion
Ken Scheve Brexit Means What?


Chinese-Middle Eastern Trade from the Silk Road to the "Belt and Road" Initiative Professor Lisa Blaydes

The Western, or liberal, international order which emerged after World War II reflects the culmination of a centuries-long process of European, and later American, economic and political development. But how can we understand global trade and economic ties before the "Rise of the West" and what does the decline of the Western international order mean for global economic relations? This project will seek to characterize the international economic order from a long-term economic perspective, with a particular focus on where the economic centers of gravity existed in the world before the rise of Western hegemony. We will also explore China's interest in greater economic and political influence in Western Asia as most clearly manifested in Xi Jinping's signature foreign policy project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Research assistants will be asked to collect and analyze data related to historical and contemporary economic, political and cultural relations between China and the Middle East. Interest in either China or the Middle East as well as training in statistics, ArcGIS and/or data management is desirable but not required.


On the Value of Elections and Voting Professor Emilee Chapman

This project examines what distinguishes voting from other forms of participation in a democracy, and asks how we should identify the appropriate goals of electoral reform. Election laws and administrative practices aim at maximizing a number of values, such as equality, fairness, transparency, security, accessibility, and efficiency. But designing electoral systems often requires making trade-offs among these values. Moreover, electoral systems also affect both the strategic environment facing political actors and citizens’ experience of voting in ways that can significantly affect the political culture and quality of democracy. The research assistant will compile background information on election laws and administrative practices, and select and conduct election case studies. The research assistant will also draft literature reviews of recent studies of voter behavior in different electoral contexts and work with Professor Chapman to identify other tasks to support the project.


Mapping Militant Organizations Professor Martha Crenshaw

The Mapping Militants Project traces the evolution of militant organizations and the interactions that develop between them over time. The project, which has been ongoing since 2009, is a renowned online resource for terrorism and insurgency experts. The project is cited in over 1,500 books and receives approximately 20,000 unique website visitors every month. The project seeks help from undergraduate research assistants to contribute to these maps and profiles. Research assistants are tasked with updating existing profiles, editing maps, and producing detailed militant profiles. Students will research and write individual profiles of the groups, using a standard format. They will also trace changes in relationships among the groups. Students should have excellent writing and research skills and be attentive to detail and accuracy. The ability to take the initiative is most welcome. An interest in international security and the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia is also important.


Uncovering the Secrets of Side Letters Professor Judith Goldstein

Over the past few decades, nations have signed hundreds of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with each other. These agreements contain legally binding promises to provide improved market access for partners' goods and services. Despite a substantial body of research investigating what these agreements include, how they get negotiated, and their impact on economic outcomes, one element of these texts has been entirely overlooked: the nearly omnipresent side-letters that accompany the formal texts. Of debatable legal standing, these side-letters contain specific assurances, clarifications, and exceptions on what are often politically sensitive and politically salient topics. Why do nations include such letters alongside but apart from the official agreement? What determines whether something ends up in a side-letter versus the official text? Is lobbying on side-letters distinct from lobbying on the agreement itself? These are the sorts of questions we hope to answer this summer. We are looking for two undergraduate students to help us classify and explore these side-letters. Interest in international trade is a plus, though no economics background is necessary.


The Promises and the Pitfalls of Multilateral Development Bank Accountability Mechanisms Professor Erica Gould

In response to calls for greater accountability at multilateral development banks (MDBs) like the World Bank, one of the most highly-touted reforms has been the creation of “accountability mechanisms.” Local communities can file complaints with these accountability mechanisms if MDB-financed development projects create harm and violate MDB rules. Nearly 800 complaints have been filed through mechanisms at nine different MDBs over the last twenty years. We know very little, however, about how these mechanisms work and what impact they have had. Who files complaints? What outcomes have they produced? Do they increase accountability, as they are purported to do? This summer, student researchers will work with a dataset of all complaints filed through 2015. Students will extend this dataset by researching individual complaints and coding their outcomes, as well as generate descriptive statistics, produce graphics and conduct preliminary data analysis. The ideal student will be detail-oriented, self-motivated and independent, as well as intrinsically interested in global development. Given the nature of the work, it would be useful for students to have either previous experience with statistical software (Stata or R) or a willingness to learn.


Immigration Policy Lab Professors Jens Hainmueller, David Laitin, and Jeremy Weinstein

Professors Jens Hainmueller, David Laitin, and Jeremy Weinstein are seeking four research assistants to assist in the Immigration Policy Lab’s research on the impact of immigration policies in the United States, Europe, Middle East and Africa. The Immigration Policy Lab has a number of projects underway, including a multi-method study to assess the impact of private co-sponsorship on refugee integration in the United States and multiple projects evaluating the impact of immigration policy on health and well-being of undocumented immigrants and their families. The research assistants will be responsible for data collection (quantitative and qualitative), data analysis, drafting literature reviews, as well as producing journal quality graphics and tables. Interest in immigration is a must, and a background in social science and statistics is preferred.


How Election Administration Rules Affect Voter Turnout Professors Andy Hall and Justin Grimmer

American electoral turnout lags far behind other advanced democracies. One reason for the low turnout might be the relatively high cost of voting in American elections, due in part to rules that govern how American elections are administered. In this project we will collect historical data to examine the effect of various historical administrative rules. For example, students will collect data from the late 19th century to assess the effect of voter registration and other data on partisan control of election administration offices to assess whether elected officials affect who turns out to vote. By the end of the summer students working on this project will gain a deep knowledge of American electoral law, will be exposed to modern causal inference techniques, and produce work that will potentially help influence current debates about voting rights in America.


The Politics of Divorce Professor Shanto Iyengar

Professor Iyengar is looking for an undergraduate RA to work on a project that examines political polarization in the U.S. Specifically, the project considers the relationship between political party registration and divorce. The student will assist with the collection and analysis of divorce records from 5-6 counties across the U.S by cleaning the existing files and then matching the divorce records to the national voter file. The student should have, at minimum, prior experience with Microsoft Excel and a strong attention to detail.


Respectability and the Politics of Punishment among Black Americans Professor Hakeem Jefferson

I am working on a series of projects that center on understanding Black Americans' attitudes toward punitive social policies, particularly when these policies target other members of their racial group. The student will assist in the design and execution of multiple survey experiments over the course of the summer that will help us better understand the conditions under which individuals decide to support punitive measures that affect in-group members. I expect that the student will meet with me at least once or twice per week and will work closely with me at all stages of the design and implementation phases of the survey experiments. Those interested in race and politics, identity, criminal justice, or political psychology are encouraged to apply. Although not at all required, students with experience analyzing data and students with experience designing or working with experiments are especially encouraged to apply.


America, the Middle East, and Grand Strategy After 9/11 Professor Colin Kahl

This book project examines the role of causal beliefs in shaping key U.S. foreign policy decisions in the Middle East during the George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump administrations. Empirically, the project will focus on decisions made by the three presidents regarding the use of force and their approach to diplomacy toward Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, among other cases. Research assistants should have strong research, analytic, and writing skills, and an interest in international security, American foreign policy, and the Middle East.


The Psychology of Americans' Political Decisions Professor Jon Krosnick

Political psychology is an interdisciplinary enterprise blending psychology with the study of politics. For this project, you will join the Political Psychology Research Group, a team of undergraduates, graduate students, and other researchers led by Professor Jon Krosnick. We will explore what the American public thinks about global warming and what they want the federal government to do on the issue. We will also be investigating 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 you take on more challenging tasks. Students who have statistical skills may be able to conduct original analyses of existing data to write papers for publication.


Creating the Framework for a New Moral Political Economy Professor Margaret Levi

This project aims to build a new moral political economic framework. The failure of neoliberalism in promoting human wellbeing, controlling inequality, protecting the environment, and shielding citizens from the malicious use of technology demands action. Our work is organized through five working groups that deal with developing cutting-edge models of human behavior and interactions; articulating the values that people hold dear; understanding how technology can help create new forms of solidarity and facilitate collective action; developing new pedagogical strategies to engage students; and crafting a vision that encapsulates our aspirations. We expect that the student’s responsibilities will include proofreading academic and non-academic writing, participating in meetings, locating relevant literature, and helping with proposal development. Although some of the specific needs will become clearer as the project advances, potential additional tasks include helping with the analysis of syllabi; following and report on news related to social movements around the world; and compiling a literature review on topics related to aspects of neoliberal policy in the 20th century. The position does not require special skills, although familiarity with textual analysis software is a plus. The student must be able to work in a team, as the work will involve engaging directly with the CASBS director, the moral economy program director, and the members of our working groups.


Citizen Trust and Evidence-Based Police Accountability and Professionalization in Mexico Professor Beatriz Magaloni

Beatriz Magaloni, Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Poverty, Violence, and Governance Lab (PoVgov) is seeking to hire an Undergraduate Research Assistant. The Undergraduate Research Assistant will work with Professor Magaloni on a project related to violence and organized crime in Mexico that focuses on understanding the spatial dynamics of crime. Applicants should be juniors or seniors majoring in computer science, economics, political science, public policy, or other related disciplines. Ideal candidates must have strong quantitative and data analysis skills and excellent written and verbal communication skills. Fluency in Spanish and proficiency in the use of STATA, R and Python are highly desirable.


A Political Thinker in Dark Times: Thomas Hobbes’s Changing Religious and Political Arguments Professor Alison McQueen

The seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote his greatest political works as his country was being torn apart by the English Civil War. In addition to making an enduring philosophical argument for political absolutism, Hobbes made a number of religious arguments, which increased in number and scope across his political works. This change is puzzling. Few of these religious arguments were necessary to support his philosophical argument. But many of these religious arguments lost Hobbes friends, opened him to condemnation, and brought him close to charges of heresy. So, why did he bother making these controversial arguments? And how did he choose which ones to make? This project considers the possibility that Hobbes’s choices track the popular arguments of his time. In order to investigate this possibility, we use computer-assisted text analysis to examine a corpus of about 10,000 pamphlets, newspapers, broadsides, and books from the English Civil War and Protectorate Periods (1641-1661). The research assistant’s duties may include interpreting the results of this analysis, investigating the use of additional text analysis tools, closely tracking changes in Hobbes’s texts, and preparing reports on selected aspects of Hobbes’s context. The ideal research assistant will have experience with computer-assisted text analysis or in the history of seventeenth-century England (and preferably experience in both areas).


The Ideological Contradictions of NIMBYism: Explaining Local Opposition to Affordable Housing Professor Clayton Nall

I am seeking students to assist with a new book project on how Americans cope with the dilemmas that arise when their general political ideology clashes with the demands of local politics. We will examine these questions in the context of local housing development policy. Students will assist with literature review for a book project and will assist in identification and collection of relevant data sources. Continuing the work of previous SRC cohorts, they will assist in the testing, deployment, administration, and analysis of a new geographically targeted survey examining how residents develop attitudes towards housing projects. Finally, in support of the project, students will work with local government documents and engage in open public records searches related to housing controversies. Students will receive necessary training for work in GIS, R, Excel, and survey research.


Soviet POWs in Nazi Camps: The Issue of Genocide Professor Norman Naimark

World War in Nazi hands, mostly by starvation and disease in German camps. The goal of this project is to examine the motivations and intentions of the Germans in dealing with Soviet POWs, examine the arguments within the German military and civilian hierarchy in dealing with the POWS, and look at judicial materials (Nuremberg Trials, Soviet Trials) that examine the level of culpability of various Nazi officials. The legal issues involved having to do with the 1929 Geneva Convention are also important. It would be useful if students could read either German or Russian. But there are important English language sources to examine, as well.


Ethics, Nuclear Weapons, and Public Opinion Professor Scott Sagan

The summer research assistants will work as a team to help Professor Sagan with a project titled, “Ethics, Nuclear Weapons, and Public Opinion.” In support of Professor Sagan as he drafts a scholarly article based on experimental survey data collected in the spring of 2018, the research assistants will: a) review coding of survey responses and analyze previous poll data; b) conduct background research, identify and report on related literatures on ethics and the use of force in non-nuclear contexts; and c) analyze how the public might weigh and interpret ethical and other considerations in decisions to support or oppose nuclear attacks. No prior social science research experience is required, but students should have experience conducting research using Stanford libraries, web-based resources, and e-journals and preparing footnotes and bibliographies. Preference will be given to students who have taken POLISCI 101: Introduction to International Relations, POLSCI 114: International Security in a Changing World, MS&E 193: Technology and National Security, and/or Thinking Matters 19: Rules of War.


Brexit Means What? Professor Ken Scheve

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted in a national referendum to leave the European Union. After parliament passed legislation authorizing the country’s intention to leave under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May started the official withdrawal process on March 28, 2017 giving the United Kingdom and the European Union two years to negotiate the terms of the country’s departure. The Prime Minister faced one of the most difficult political problems in the history of her country. The referendum had only decided that the country should no longer be a member of the EU. It was silent on what the relationship between the UK and the EU should be going forward with tremendous conflict in the country over this question. Moreover, whatever it was that the UK wanted had to be acceptable to the member states of the EU.

The student working on this project will help prepare data and historical materials for a case study that will explore the determinants of the UK’s negotiating positions in its Article 50 negotiations with the EU.