Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2016



Course Number


Course Description

The objectives of this class are twofold. The first goal is to develop a critical understanding of the use of scientific research in the practice and academic study of international affairs. While we will consider issues central to all research and some unique to qualitative analysis, the emphasis in this class is quantitative research. Whether you are primarily interested in security, finance, development, trade, or social issues, much research that is likely of interest to you uses some form of quantitative analysis. This is equally true for policy reports published by the UN, World Bank, Brookings, RAND, or other relevant organizations. In order to be a productive participant in the world of international affairs, you need to be able to understand the assumptions that underlie quantitative analyses, to disentangle proper and improper uses of quantitative evidence, and to ask intelligent questions about the validity of quantitative measurement and statistical methods.

A second goal of the class is to equip you with the basic skills to actually perform quantitative analyses using a statistical software package (SPSS in this case). These skills include being able to find, download, use, and manipulate datasets published on the internet; to produce and interpret basic graphs and tables in an intelligent way; and to execute and evaluate the output of basic statistical models, especially regression analysis. Bear in mind that the emphasis in this class is on the analysis of data and the substantive interpretation of results. Of necessity, some concepts and relationships will be represented mathematically, but the class is not a mathematical statistics class. Those desiring more rigorous mathematical treatments are encouraged to take follow-up courses in statistical theory and econometrics.