INST 101 Introduction to International Studies - Section 1 - Dr. Guo - 10/23-11/15
The University of Mississippi
Fall 2018, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8-9:15, 107 Croft Institute
Instructor: Dr. Gang Guo * Office: 128 Deupree Hall * Telephone: (662) 915-5419 * e-mail: gg at olemiss dot edu
Office hours: by appointment
This is one of three modules in the INST 101 course sequence.
The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the idea and practices of conducting social scientific research in international studies.
Students are encouraged to adopt a global and comparative mindset, to practice research problem-solving, and to contemplate their own role as both consumers and more importantly producers of knowledge.
After completing this course, a student should be
- able to understand the basic elements of conducting empirical research in an international context;
- familiar with the most essential issues, concepts, and theories in comparative politics;
- able to import data into and to conduct preliminary analysis using functions and charts in Microsoft Excel;
- familiar with the most important sources of international statistical data;
- and driven by intellectual curiosity to pursue interesting research questions in international studies.
Students will be evaluated on
- class participation,
- five (5) homework assignments,
- two (2) in-class exams,
- a brief research paper, and finally
- an in-class presentation of the research paper.
Class participation is worth 24 points toward the module grade, accumulated throughout the eight (8) class sessions, and based on regular attendance, making informed comments, and asking constructive questions in class.
This module contains five (5) homework assignments.
Each of the homeworks is worth six (6) points toward the module grade.
The homeworks are to be submitted on Blackboard.
Unexcused late homeworks will be penalized.
There will be two (2) in-class close-book exams, each worth eight (8) points.
The exams contain multiple-choice questions.
A student is permitted to make up a missed exam without penalty if he/she informs the instructor in advance of an unavoidable time conflict between the exam and a scheduled University-approved activity.
The research paper should be no more than five (5) pages in length. The page count does not include title page (if any), tables or figures (required), footnotes or end notes (if any), and list of references (required).
The paper should 1) identify a research question; 2) develop theoretical hypothesis or hypotheses on the relationship between a dependent variable and an independent variable (and possibly a control variable); 3) describe the data used to test the hypothesis or hypotheses; 4) use scatterplot chart(s) with estimated linear regression equation to show the relationship between variables; 5) interpret the values of the slope, y-intercept, and R-squared; 6) write a conclusion that corresponds to the findings from data analysis.
The paper could utilize any one or combination of the international statistical data sources used in this module in answering the research question.
An important criteria of evaluation of the research paper will be the quality of analysis and interpretation of the empirical evidence.
The paper is worth twenty (20) points toward the module grade.
It should be submitted on Blackboard by the beginning of the last class in this module.
Unexcused late papers will be penalized.
Allow time to proofread.
Good writing is essential.
Finally, please note that academic honesty is not only a mark of a good scholar, but also a good person.
The papers will be submitted through and thus checked by SafeAssignment on BlackBoard.
In the last class of this module, each student will make a three-minute presentation to highlight the research question, theoretical hypothesis, and empirical evidence of the research.
The presentation is worth ten (10) points toward the module grade.
The PowerPoint or PDF file for the presentation should also be submitted on Blackboard by the beginning of the last class in this module.
- Issues, Concepts, and Theories in Comparative Politics - Part I (Tuesday, October 23rd)
- Powell, G. Bingham, Russell J. Dalton, and Kaare Strøm. "Challenge and Change in Comparative Politics." Chapter 1 in Comparative Politics Today: A World View, Twelvth Edition. Pages 1-11.
- What Is Comparative Politics? 1.1 Briefly describe the public and authoritative aspects of political decisions.
- Challenges: Building Community 1.2 Discuss the challenges of building a national identity for a nonhomogeneous population.
- Fostering Economic Development 1.3 Explain the processes and challenges of economic development, giving specific examples from various countries.
- Problems of Economic Development
- Unlike comparative politics, International Relations (IR) examines the relationships and interactions among states and non-state actors.
- Homework 1 after class:
- On The World Factbook webpage, use the pull-down menu to select a country that you are most interested in, and then click the "Open All" link or the printer icon on the upper right side of the webpage to read the full contents for that country. Write down and discuss what surprises you the most about the country.
- On the Guide to Country Comparisons webpage, click the "EXPAND ALL" link on the right-hand side and then the link for an indicator that you are interested in to access the ranking of countries. Write down and discuss what surprises you the most about the ranking.
- You may write your homework first in a word processing software with spelling and grammar checker and then copy and paste the text into the "Text Submission" box after you click the "Write Submission" button on Blackboard.
- The Diversity of States (Thursday, October 25th)
- In-class close-book multiple-choice examination on the reading for the previous class.
- Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington DC: Central Intelligence Agency.
- Importing data into Microsoft Excel: cases/observations and variables
- Descriptive statistics: (frequency) distribution, minimum, maximum, mean/average, median, and range
- Charts: column/bar, line, pie, and scatter; map chart
- Homework 2 after class:
- Import a data table from the CIA World Factbook - "Guide to Country Comparisons" or "Definitions and Notes" into Microsoft Excel.
- Make and edit a chart to present the data in Microsoft Excel.
- In the text box under the "Write Submission" button on Blackboard 1) explain why you use that particular chart type instead of other types; 2) describe and interpret the main (no more than five) takeaway points of the chart.
- Attach the Microsoft Excel file to your submission on Blackboard.
- Issues, Concepts, and Theories in Comparative Politics - Part II (Tuesday, October 30th)
- Powell, G. Bingham, Russell J. Dalton, and Kaare Strøm. "Challenge and Change in Comparative Politics." Chapter 1 in Comparative Politics Today: A World View, Twelvth Edition. Pages 11-22.
- Fostering Democracy, Human Rights, and Civil Liberties 1.4 Describe the characteristics of representative democracy and the connections between economic development and democratization.
- The Effects of Globalization 1.5 Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization.
- What Governments Do 1.6 List five ways in which a government can help its citizens.
- When Does Government Become the Problem? 1.7 List five ways in which a government can harm or hinder its citizens.
- Conclusion: Looking Forward
- Review Questions
- Key Terms
- Suggested Readings
- In-class close-book multiple-choice examination on the reading for this class.
- World development (Thursday, November 1st)
- Research questions: descriptive, relational, and causal
- Levels of measurement: nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Human Development Index and its components.
- World Bank. The World Bank Open Data provides free and open access to global development data.
- World Bank. The Ease of Doing Business Index.
- Homework 3 after class:
- Download the Gini index data in Excel format compiled by the World Bank at http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.GINI.
- Calculate the mean Gini index over time for each country using the "AVERAGE" function in Excel.
- Copy and paste the country name column and the average Gini index column onto a new sheet in Excel. Use the "Paste Special" - "Values" option to avoid losing the original values.
- Download the Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 data compiled by Transparency International in Excel format.
- Use the data consolidation tool in Excel to merge the mean Gini index and CPI scores data. Click "Data" - "Consolidate" on the menu and add the two data tables as two "References" in the "Consolidate" dialog box. Select both "Top row" and "Left column" under "Use labels in" and then click "OK."
- Select the merged 3-column data table and click "Data" - "Sort" to sort the data by country name in alphabetical order.
- Carefully look for and resolve duplicate countries and error codes in table cells.
- Submit the cleaned data table as an Excel file on Blackboard.
- The world in the recent past and the near future (Tuesday, November 6th)
- International Monetary Fund. IMF Data Mapper. Washington DC: International Monetary Fund.
- Homework 4 after class:
- Use the "CORREL" function in Excel to calculate the correlation coefficient (r) between average Gini index and Corruption Perceptions Index that you compiled for the last homework.
- Make a scatterplot in Excel to show the relationship between average Gini index and Corruption Perceptions Index that you compiled for the last homework.
- Double check your data source for the scatterplot by selecting the chart and click "Chart Tools" - "Design" - "Select Data" on the menu. In the dialog box that pops up there should be only one entry under "Legend Entries (Series)." If you click to "Edit" that series you will see "Series X values" and "Series Y values." Make sure they refer to the correct columns in your consolidated data table.
- Edit the chart title, axis titles, and legend(s) of the Excel chart to make them more self-explanatory.
- Change the chart layout to show the linear function of the relationship by clicking on "Layout 9" in "Chart Layouts" under the "Chart Tools - Design" tab.
- Click the "Write Submission" button under "Assignment Submission" on Blackboard and an editable text box will appear. Write a paragraph in the box to interpret the values of the slope, y-intercept, and R-squared shown in the legend box of the scatterplot chart and discuss your findings.
- Attach the scatterplot chart as an Excel or image file.
- Gapminder world (Thursday, November 8th)
- Human Rights and Democracy Statistics: In this video, made for the Oslo freedom Forum 2009, Hans Rosling discuss the difficulty in measuring progress in Human Rights in the form of comparable numerical statistics. He also shows the surprisingly weak correlation between existing estimates for democracy and socio-economic progress.
- Homework 5 after class:
- Download or import democracy scores from Gapminder Data into Excel.
- Keep only the two columns containing country names and democracy scores of the most recent year for which data is available; delete all other columns.
- Merge democracy scores with the Excel spreadsheet data that you compiled for the last homework.
- Sort the data by democracy score.
- Repeat the steps of the last homework to make and edit a scatterplot chart to show the relationship between corruption and inequality for those countries with positive democracy scores ("democracies").
- Repeat the steps of the last homework to make and edit a scatterplot chart to show the relationship between corruption and inequality for those countries with negative democracy scores ("non-democracies").
- Click the "Write Submission" button under "Assignment Submission" on Blackboard and an editable text box will appear. Write a paragraph in the box to interpret and compare the values of the slope, y-intercept, and R-squared shown in the legend boxes of the two scatterplot charts and discuss your findings.
- Attach the two scatterplot charts as an Excel or image file.
- Research papers and presentation files should be submitted on Blackboard in a week.
- Individual-level analysis (Tuesday, November 13th)
- The Pew Research Center conducts public opinion surveys around the world on a broad array of subjects ranging from people's assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. The Global Indicators Database contains data from over 500,000 interviews in 64 countries.
- The ICPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research) maintains a data archive of more than 250,000 files of research in the social and behavioral sciences. It hosts 21 specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields.
- Gallup World
- Research papers and presentation files should be submitted on Blackboard by the beginning of the next class.
- Research presentations (Thursday, November 15th)
- Research papers and presentation files should be submitted on Blackboard by the beginning of this class.
- Each student will prepare a PowerPoint or PDF file that presents 1) the research question and theoretical hypothesis; 2) the dependent and independent variables (and possibly a control variable); 3) chart(s) of simple linear regression with estimated regression equation and R-squared.
- Each student will have three (3) minutes to present his or her research in this class.