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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Zachary Elkins

Associate Professor Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Zachary Elkins

Contact

Biography

website | Professor Elkins’ research focuses on issues of democracy, institutional reform, research methods, and national identity, with an emphasis on cases in Latin America. He is currently completing a book manuscript, Designed by Diffusion: Constitutional Reform in Developing Democracies, which examines the design and diffusion of democratic institutions, and recently completed The Endurance of National Constitutions, which explores the factors that lead to the survival of national constitutions. With Tom Ginsburg (University of Chicago), Professor Elkins co-directs both the Comparative Constitutions Project, a NSF-funded initiative to understand the causes and consequences of constitutional choices, and the website constituteproject.org, which provides resources and analysis for constitutional drafters in new democracies. Elkins earned his B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

GOV 385L • Conceptualizatn & Measurement

39100 • Spring 2013
Meets W 330pm-630pm BAT 5.102
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Course Description

This course introduces students to the challenges of developing meaningful social science concepts and identifying and evaluating appropriate measures of these concepts.  These are challenges that arise, explicitly or not, in nearly every social science inquiry.  Topics include the following.  What makes for a “good” concept?  How do we determine the defining characteristics of concepts?  How can we build measures of concepts and evaluate their reliability and validity?  How can we measure concepts comparably across different contexts (both geographic and historical)?  The objective of the course is highly pragmatic.  Students will develop a familiarity with a varied set of methodological tools that are useful with both qualitative and quantitative data.  As such, the course requirements will include applied exercises and analyses.  The course will entail both “interpretive” and statistical components, although prior coursework in methodology of any sort is not required or expected. 

Course Materials

Online.  Information for this course will be posted on the class Blackboard site.  There you will find updates to this syllabus, electronic copies of selected readings, instructions for uploading assignments, and regular announcements.  If you have any problems with your password or accessing Blackboard, contact ITS.  If you can access Blackboard, but cannot access any material from this course, please contact Professor Elkins by email.

Print.  The following books are available for purchase at the UT Co-op or from online bookstores at your convenience.  All other readings will be available on the course website.

Carmines, Edward J. and Richard A. Zeller.  1979.  Reliability and Validity Assessment.  Beverly Hills: Sage.

Goertz, Gary.  2006.  Social Science Concepts: A User’s Guide.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.

[Recommended, but expensive] Bollen, Kenneth A.  1989.  Structural Equations With Latent Variables.  Wiley, 1989

Software.  For several units in the course, we will employ various software packages, all of which are available on the apps.austin.utexas.edu server.  If you do not already have an account on that server, you should acquire one from ITS.

Requirements and Grading

Discussion of the written material is a central component of the course, and the expectation is that you read carefully and share your reactions to, and questions about, the readings.  Your grade will be based on the following components:

(5)   Reaction papers and problem sets (50%).  Most (but not all) weeks you will be responsible for a short assignment related to the week’s theme.  Typically, you will be asked to write a short reaction paper (roughly two pages, double spaced), in which you reflect on some aspect(s) of the reading.  For some of these weeks, I will ask that you address a particular topic or question in your reaction paper and for some I will give you a short problem set in lieu of the reaction paper.  Unless otherwise noted, the reaction papers are due by 10 PM on the Tuesday prior to class.

(6)   Research Paper (50%).  You will be expected to produce a short (15 page) research paper on one of the themes of the course.  The paper is due Friday, December 10 at 5PM.

GOV 365N • Iss In Third-World Development

38805 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm PAR 201
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GOV 357M • Constitutional Design

38725 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm MEZ B0.302
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Course Description and Objectives

Recent constitutional reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan has redirected our attention to the problems of creating foundational charters. In this course we will examine the design and implementation of national constitutions.  In particular, we will address the following questions.  What are the basic elements of constitutions?  How do these elements differ across time, across region, and across regime type?  What is the process by which states draft and implement constitutions?  What models, theories, and writings have influenced the framers of constitutions?  What are the expected consequences of different constitutional choices?  The course requires careful and diligent reading, consistent participation, and two in-class exams.

Requirements and Grading

This is a seminar for undergraduates who have taken at least six hours of Government coursework or related coursework in other departments.  Discussion of the written material is a central component of the course, and the expectation is that you come fully prepared to discuss the readings assigned on any given day.  Your grade will be based on the following components:

(1)   Class Participation (20%).  The participation score will be based on both attendance and, more importantly, your contribution to class discussions.

(2)   Reaction papers (20%).  For at least six of the sessions, you will be required to respond to the readings in a short reaction paper.  You may choose which of the six sessions you turn in papers, except that you must complete three in each half of the course (that is, three before March 9 and three after).  Reaction papers are short (roughly 500-word) essays in which you reflect on the readings and address any criticism(s) or reactions to the readings.  Some weeks you might be asked to address a particular question, but for most weeks you can address the issues or questions of your choice.  For more guidance, see the handout, “How to Write a Reaction Paper,” which is available on the course website.

Reaction papers for each week must be posted on the website by 10 PM on the day before class.  See the handout for specific instructions on how to post your paper.

 

Reaction papers are graded on an acceptable/unacceptable basis.  As long as you show that you have read, and reflected on, the reading in a coherent thoughtful fashion, your paper will be deemed acceptable and you will receive full credit.

(3)   Short Analytical Paper (20%).  As part of a series of classes on the process and practice of constitutional assistance, you will review recent or draft constitution from a country currently or recently involved in constitutional design and write up your findings.

 

(4)   Exams (40%).  You will take two in-class exams (a midterm and a final) in which you will be asked to respond to a series of questions testing your comprehension of the reading.  

Grading Scale.  Grades will be assigned on a (+/-) basis according to the following scale: 97-100 = A+; 94-96 = A; 90-93 = A-; 87-89 = B+; 84-86 = B; etc.

Required Materials

The following books are available for purchase at the UT Co-op or from online bookstores at your convenience.  All other materials will be available on the course website.

Elkins, Zachary, Tom Ginsburg, and James Melton.  2009.  The Endurance of National Constitutions.  Cambridge University Press.

Lijphart, Arend.  1999.  Patterns of Democracy.  Yale University Press.  

GOV 357M • Constitutional Design

38728 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 208
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see syllabus

GOV 357M • Constitutional Design

38945 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm BAT 5.102
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Recent constitutional reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan has redirected our attention to the problems of creating foundational charters. In this course we will examine the design and implementation of national constitutions. In particular, we will address the following questions. What are the basic elements of constitutions? How do these elements differ across time, across region, and across regime type? What is the process by which states draft and implement constitutions? What models, theories, and writings have influenced the framers of constitutions? We proceed by reviewing the historical roots of select constitutions and investigate their provisions and formal characteristics. We begin with a carefully investigation of the North American experience, both in the United States and Canada and then move to other noteworthy constitutions in each of the other continents.The course requires careful and diligent reading, consistent participation, and two in-class exams.

GOV 365N • Iss In Third-World Development

39010 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm BEN 1.122
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This course surveys important topics in the politics of developing countries.  The course begins conceptually with a closer look at the idea of “development” and the classification of cases along such lines.  We then examine the historical foundations of political systems in the developing world.  We briefly explore the constraints of geography before turning to aspects of colonialism, the rise of nationalism, the movements for independence, and transitions to and from democratic rule.  The second part of the course then investigates particular demographic challenges to (and policy solutions for) governance in the developing world, including the problem of population, urban migration, and agrarian reform.  In the third part, we turn to sources of political change and upheaval in these societies, including globalization, ethnic violence, and the role of women in politics.

GOV 365N • Iss In Third-World Development

38652 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm BUR 136
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Course Description: This course surveys important topics in the politics of developing countries. The course begins conceptually with a closer look at the idea of “development” and the classification of cases along such lines. We then examine the historical foundations of political systems in the developing world. We briefly explore the constraints of geography before turning to aspects of colonialism, the rise of nationalism, the movements for independence, and transitions to and from democratic rule. The second part of the course then investigates particular demographic challenges to (and policy solutions for) governance in the developing world, including the problem of population, urban migration, and agrarian reform. In the third part, we turn to sources of political change and upheaval in these societies, including globalization, ethnic violence, and the role of women in politics.
 
Grading Policy:
Three Exams (75%)
Geography Tests (15%)
Participation (10%)
 
Central Texts

CHALLENGE OF THIRD WORLD DEVELOPMENT Ed: 6TH Yr: 2011,
HANDELMAN
ISBN:9780205791231
REQUIRED
New $77.00
Used. $57.75
(Save $19.25 off the New Price)
I-CLICKER CLASSROOM RESPONSE SYSTEM Ed: 1ST,
HOLTZBRINCK
ISBN:9780716779391
REQUIRED
New $37.35

Rand McNally Atlas of International Politics. 2006.  Houghton Mifflin

GOV 385L • Conceptualizatn & Measurement

38815 • Fall 2010
Meets W 930am-1230pm BAT 1.104
show description

Course Description: This course introduces students to the challenges of developing meaningful social science concepts and identifying and evaluating appropriate measures of these concepts.  These are challenges that arise, explicitly or not, in nearly every social science inquiry.  Topics include the following.  What makes for a “good” concept?  How do we determine the defining characteristics of concepts?  How can we build measures of concepts and evaluate their reliability and validity?  How can we measure concepts comparably across different contexts (both geographic and historical)?  The objective of the course is highly pragmatic.  Students will develop a familiarity with a varied set of methodological tools that are useful with both qualitative and quantitative data.  As such, the course requirements will include applied exercises and analyses.  The course will entail both “interpretive” and statistical components, although prior coursework in methodology of any sort is not required or expected.  

 

Grading Policy: TBA

Textbooks: TBA

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