Doctoral Degree in Politics and International Affairs

Research Fields

The Doctorate in Politics and International Affairs specializes in the following four fields of research:

International Relations

In the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, the International Relations (IR) faculty focuses on four areas of study: international relations theory, global political economy, international security, and human rights. We stress the importance of cutting-edge scholarship in our teaching of the graduate seminars as well as bridging the many emergent gaps in theory and practice in the various subfields that comprise International Relations, including American foreign policy, international ethics, global governance, and international law and organizations. One of our central aims is to advance innovative applications of the central theoretical perspectives (and their variant strands) in International Relations, namely, realism, liberalism, critical theory, constructivism, Marxism, international political theory, and gender. These applications involve in-depth theoretical and empirical analysis of key global issues, such as Asian security, moral accountability, the enforcement of human rights, immigration, and political and economic inequality. The International Relations faculty have published numerous books and peer-reviewed articles on these issue areas. These include monographs on the political tensions on the Korean Peninsula or North Korea’s nuclear arms buildup, the political cosmopolitan character and shifting dynamics of the International Criminal Court (ICC), hegemony and inequality in the global political economy, and China’s rapidly increasing support of intervention in African states. Together our published research emphasizes the production of critical theoretic knowledge, or the advanced methodological analysis of the contradictions and tensions informing the substantive debates in International Relations. This not only requires the particular mastery of concepts, methods, and claims but also an open-ended and historical understanding of the changing social forces shaping the behavior of states and the relations among global and local actors. It is this scholarly approach that we adopt to train our graduate students specializing in international relations, particularly as they advance their dissertation research and empirical knowledge of the global and regional contexts of problems and issues. One of the outcomes we strive for, then, is to encourage our doctoral students to develop rigorous theoretical and contextual analysis from which they can devise solutions and prescriptions to global issues.

Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics in the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies is committed to theory-driven, empirical research from an interdisciplinary perspective that is situated in a political, historical, cultural, and economic context.  The Comparative Politics faculty employ a variety of methodological approaches from both the social sciences and humanities, which utilize qualitative and quantitative research methods to study the patterns of similarities and differences. In particular, we conduct comparative and case study research to inquire into these patterns and to develop our theoretical propositions. One of our aims is to produce knowledge about the changing social, political, and legal conditions affecting the lives, development, cultural practices, and customs of underrepresented peoples. In meeting this aim, our research focuses on several themes of comparative politics, including social movements, democracy/democratization, citizenship, decolonization, genocide, hegemony, race and identity, development, legal systems and customary law, social justice, and indigenismo or the political ideology focusing on the changing relations of state and local peoples. Much of our published research draws creatively on social, critical, and political theory to advance knowledge of the laws, changing social relations, and attitudes in several countries, which includes Brazil, Ecuador, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Iran. Our research strengths lie in the areas of race and citizenship, social movements theory, human security and law (or legal custom) in Eastern Africa, indigenous rights in various Latin American countries, and security relations in the Middle East. With these thematic foci, we encourage graduate students to create and develop their own research by selecting a region of the world as their emphasis and adopting theoretically informed research and comparative methods that allow them to analyze the changing social and political conditions in the countries of this region.

American Politics

The study of American Politics in the doctorate program in politics and international affairs provides a comprehensive overview as well as an in-depth analysis of American politics. Our faculty focus on various aspects of American politics, including theoretical foundations, federalism, institutions (Congress, the executive branch, the bureaucracy, the judiciary), political behavior (political parties, the media, interest groups, social movements, and elections), and public policy (foreign and domestic), and employ a range of methodological approaches such as historical development, legal doctrine, institutional rules, and quantitative analyses of the behavior of political actors and the mass public, to advance the student's research skills.  Our core class, Seminar in American Politics, for instance, surveys the key foundations, institutions, and behavior in American politics, introducing students to both qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches for analyzing and testing the changing trends and outcomes in American politics. Special topics courses provide opportunities to gain in-depth knowledge on new research on a range of themes, including political development, the social bases of politics, and the global impact of American politics. The faculty in American politics have made important contributions in the areas of race and ethnicity, the judiciary, the presidency, Florida government, civil liberties, health care, environmental justice, economic inequality, and animal rights. Our strengths lie in economic inequality, animal rights, the Presidency, Judicial Behavior, Race and Ethnicity, and State and Local Government. In these specific areas, we have published several cutting-edge books and articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, which examine the emergence and implementation of nonhuman animals' regime of rights, the changing directions of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and its impact on world politics, and alternative strategies for natural disasters in the United States. Our scholarship is thus distinctive for the ways in which it addresses American government and politics in a global context. This is how we seek to train our doctoral students on the rapidly changing, nuanced linkages between local, state, federal and global institutional politics.  

Political Theory

Political Theory introduces students to the core normative issues in the study of political science. These normative issues provide the bedrock assumptions on which much of the study of political science depends. For example, while nearly everyone agrees that democracy is the best form of government, why do we place such faith in it? In addition, the long tradition of political thought offers multiple versions of democracy, each with its own strengths and limitations. How are we to identify the best version for our needs? Similarly, while we might extol non-violence in politics, is it always the best path for political movements? How are we to justify its alternatives? Clarifying our moral commitments, sharpening our conceptual tools, and outlining pathways for transforming theoretical knowledge into action requires philosophical, historical, and conceptual capabilities. The political theory faculty at the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies trains students to develop these capabilities. To that end, political theory classes not only familiarize students with many of the canonical texts that were read by generations of prominent political thinkers (from Aristotle to Martin Luther King Jr), they also teach students to read these texts critically and with an eye towards contemporary political developments. As such, training in political theory is a critical supplement to graduate work at School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies. The faculty’s expertise in feminist theory, postcolonial theory, the role of emotions in politics, environmental political thought, and Indian political thought complements the terminal degrees offered in American Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations.