Meeting first-generation students at the Jaishankar Memorial Center, which was helping to extend the legacy of a recently closed Gender Resource Center in Sarita Vihar slum, Delhi. Visit with my NYU Abu Dhabi Students (for “Gender Revolutions & the State in India”), 2017.
Quantitative Analysis for International Affairs (IR 602), Spring 2020, 2021, 2022
This course is an introduction to the core statistical methods that drive international policy design and analysis. Students who engage fully with the material will learn how to formulate hypotheses, critically assess the data collection process, the quality of the resulting data, and the application of statistical tools for data analysis to address public policy problems and the solutions applied to date. The course aim is to prepare international affairs practitioners with statistical literacy, including the capacity to assess and deploy statistical reasoning tools and techniques. It will emphasize hands-on learning using real social, political, and policy data and analysis.
Over the semester, we will work to understand what data actually is, and how the inferences we draw are only as good as the process that begins with the initial conceptualization of questions, problems, or puzzles, the resulting process of data collection, “cleaning” and evaluation, as well as the coding and analysis of variables, all culminating in the visualization and discussion of results. In addition, we will learn how to “read” and run statistical analysis. This requires learning the logic of statistical tools utilized to evaluate relationships – and ideally, identify causation – in international events and policy. To achieve these two aims, we begin by discussing why we collect data and how we formulate hypotheses. We next study methods of data collection, qualitative and quantitative, and how to address ethical challenges in gathering, analyzing, and disseminating data. With these core concepts in mind, we learn how to conduct basic and descriptive statistics, including how to “visualize” data. We then focus on causal inference and hypothesis testing, with the aim of developing an understanding of how methods of inference can give us the means to analyze policy problems. We conclude with
applying this knowledge to improve the databases collected now to answer crucial questions about national and global policies.
Gender and Global Politics (IR 354), Spring 2020, 2021, 2022
This course will offer a general introduction to the study of gender and global politics, mainly through the lens of understanding the larger political and economic underpinnings of gender inequality in the contemporary world, with a focus on several countries that span developing and advanced industrial
democracies. We will develop, critically analyze, and rethink potential policy remedies to such inequality. This course will prepare international affairs practitioners with substantive knowledge and analytic tools and techniques to propose and analyze policy solutions to address long-standing challenges of political gender inequality around the globe. It will emphasize hands-on learning using real social, political, and policy data and cases, including how political, economic, and social systems create and weaponize gender inequality, and how citizens mobilize for revolutionary change in economics, society, and politics.
We are living a time of great reckoning. Awareness has grown about the magnitude of enduring forms of inequality – particularly around race and gender – alongside evidence of our collective ability to challenge systems of power. Inegalitarian orders, by their very nature, succeed by magnifying the contributions of those in dominant positions, making invisible the contributions of those in subordinate positions, and arguing that any reduction in the privileges of those at the top is untenable because of its direct effect on their work, which is invaluable for society as a whole. In order to imagine and create alternative, more egalitarian orders, the first step is to rethink what we learn about power when we examine formerly invisible contributions. The second step is to analyze how systems function differently when we redistribute access to power. The third step is to ask how the small set of changes we can observe from the past encourage us to reimagine the future.
Political Economy of Gender Inequality (IR 591), Fall 2019, 2021, 2022
This course asks several questions: What is gender inequality? Specifically, how do we study it, and how relevant is it for understanding power? What are the political, economic, and social dynamics of gender inequality? What can policy do (better)? We study these questions with a particular focus on India and the US, two of the world’s most influential democracies, and globally, with puzzling
gender disparities across political, economic, and social rights. While we examine a range of reforms, we focus in particular on the institutions driving (or limiting) redistributive reforms concerning public health, private wealth, political voice, and climate change. These represent some of the hardest and most important reforms for states to implement. Whenever possible, we will integrate interviews
of public officials, activists, and intellectuals responsible for driving egalitarian reform into seminars.
In this course, students will engage deeply with empirical studies of gender inequality. In doing so, they will learn how to make use of qualitative and quantitative evidence of various sorts to analyze the important social issue of gender inequality, its causes, and potential solutions. Students will also critically analyze public policy, which serves to entrench gender inequality and to reduce it. Students will learn to analyze the first- and second-order effects of gender-related policies in order to understand pathways to reduce gender inequality. Students will develop presentation skills and the ability to discuss complex issues in a nuanced manner. This includes engaging with the ethical choices and responsibilities of governments, NGOs, and individuals regarding gender equality and fairness. Finally, students will develop research and writing skills that will allow them to critically evaluate theoretical and empirical arguments surrounding the political economy of gender inequality. They will learn to distinguish between empirical claims and normative judgments, which are often intertwined in arguments about gender inequality.
Capstone Research Seminar on Global Development for MA GDE/GDP Program (EC/IR 798), Co-taught with Dilip Mookherjee, Fall 2021, 2022
This course brings together all participants in the MA Global Development program (GDE in the Economics Department and GDP at the Pardee School of Global Studies) to develop skills in development project work. These skills include: (a) development of research methodology specific to actual development contexts and applying it to answer specific policy questions in real time; (b) teamwork and coordination with others from different backgrounds and expertise; (c) writing and presentation of results and recommendations.
In Fall 2022, one project involves analysis of food price inflation across Bangladesh, to analyze whether or not wholesale/retail prices respond to variations in import prices over time, as well as to the concentration
of intermediaries, and local characteristics such as levels of poverty, remoteness/centrality, and infrastructure. It will use a high-frequency dataset on input, wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities provided by the World Bank, combined with Census or household surveys regarding relevant local characteristics.
The second project in Fall 2022 consists of partnership with the Government of Meghalaya State, India, and the State Capacity Enhancement Project team to first identify the best methods to evaluate a new State policy: quasi-voluntary quotas for women in elected local government, in Village Employment Councils responsible for planning and implementing one of the world’s largest poverty-reduction programs: the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), for both the Secretary and Chair(person) roles. As of August 2020, the state government implemented quotas to rotate the “elected” Secretary position between women and men, and to do the same for the next round of election/selection processes of candidates for the Chair(person) position. For this second project, two students receive funding from the Global Development Policy Center to travel to the capital of Meghalaya state, Shillong, and begin preliminary qualitative and quantitative data collection in collaboration with the leaders of the State Capacity Enhancement Team.
NYU Abu Dhabi
Introduction to Comparative Politics, Undergraduate Seminar, Spring 2019
How do humans organize themselves and maintain order, and how does this organization vary around the world? When and how does order break down? Why are some countries rich while others are poor? Where does democracy come from and what is it good for? Does democracy increase or decrease economic, social and political inequalities between citizens? These are some of the key questions around which this course is centered, and which are of interest not only to political scientists, but also to engaged world citizens across many professions. One of the goals of the course is to help students learn the process of social science by working through the central questions of comparative politics. This process involves presenting a question or puzzle, identifying explanations for variation in an outcome of interest, and testing hypotheses that allow us to know whether some or all parts of these explanations are supported by evidence. These critical thinking skills will serve students well for any career path they choose. The course is divided into five parts, each centered around a set of key questions. The first part introduces students to the sub-field of comparative politics, methods of studying social science, and the relevance of comparative politics and social scientific thinking to global issues and current affairs. The second part addresses questions related to political order – where does it come from? Why is it necessary? What happens when order breaks down? The third part examines the ways in which human societies have organized politically, and examines the merits and drawbacks of varieties of political organization and institutions. The fourth part addresses the role of identity in political behavior and processes. Finally, the course concludes by examining the wealth and poverty of nations and people – why are some countries and people poor and some are rich? Why are some sorts of privileges more enduring than others? Is inequality – whether political, economic, or social – a bad thing? Is it inevitable? In the final weeks of the course, students will have the opportunity to present their own research questions, focusing on the comparative politics outcome that they find most interesting.
Gender Revolutions & the State in India, J-term, Winter 2016 & Winter 2017
This January term course asks two questions: Why do states conduct top-down reforms for gender equality? What are these interventions’ impact? We study these questions in the context of India, the world’s largest and most influential developing democracy, with some of the most complex, puzzling variation in economic and social rights. Specifically, we examine reforms that equalize women’s rights to a core economic and social commodity: land. These represent the hardest and most important reforms for the state to implement. We will travel to India to interview top government officials and leaders responsible for implementing gender-equalizing land inheritance reform across India’s diverse cultural, economic, and political landscape.
Comparative Politics of South Asia, Undergraduate Seminar, Fall 2014 & Fall 2015
How were South Asia’s states built, and how does state building continue today? What explains governments’ varied projects to transform society across the region? Why are there vastly different patterns of development, growth, and conflict across this geographic region? Why do so many of the region’s conflicts last so long, and under which conditions should we expect them to end? How do dynamic patterns of migration and identity shape opportunities for peace, conflict, and development within and across these states? These are some of the questions that this course addresses, with a primary focus on India and a secondary focus on Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
Justice: Political Theory and Practice, Undergraduate Seminar, Spring 2015, Fall 2015 & Spring 2018
This course invites students to engage with historical and contemporary thinking about a global challenge: justice. Our inquiry is both global and firmly grounded in our experience as NYU students and faculty engaged with the United Arab Emirates’ and their home countries’ broader communities. In this course, we explore five fundamental questions about the ideal of just behavior and just institutions:
1. What makes individual action just?
2. Which solidarities, rights, and autonomy must a just polity protect?
3. What sorts of equality should a just society ensure? What sorts of liberties?
4. What sort of justice are economic institutions bound to provide?
5. What systems of global justice exist? What should their scope comprise?
6. How can we work to approach local and global justice in our communities?
We will approach these questions by examining answers to them provided by historical and contemporary theories of justice from Plato and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to Marx and Engels, Qutb, and Ambedkar. We conclude by discussing the challenges of global justice. Students will be required to use both qualitative and quantitative methods to understand, analyze, and communicate our learning about how we can approach ideals of justice in the context of local institutions. Throughout the course, we will engage in designing, implementing and analyzing survey research on how to improve access to justice in each of your home countries.
NYU New York
Politics Senior Honors I and II, Undergraduate Honors Seminar, Fall 2013-Spring 2014
The purpose of this course is to write an original, publishable senior thesis. Attention is paid equally to the design, implementation and presentation of empirical research, with support from qualitative research as merited by the research question. In the fall semester, students will learn the principles of research design, topic selection, theory building and data collection. They will also study appropriate empirical methods. In the spring semester, students will analyze the data they have collected, write up their findings in the form of a clear and concise thesis, and present their findings to their peers and NYU’s research community.
The Political Economy of Development in Rural India, Undergraduate Seminar, Winter 2013
When and why do agriculturalists accept, manipulate, or overthrow the pre-existing distribution of political, economic and social power? This course helps students utilize political economy theories and methods of analysis to understand the institutional dynamics of change in rural India. First, it provides students with a deeper understanding of the nature of change in a particularly dynamic, varied and influential state with a mainly-rural population: India. Second, it focuses on three major topics in political economy: control over land; taxation and investment; and anti-state resistance. The course draws from political science’s examinations of how and why states succeed, fail, and conduct major reforms by examining these questions in the context of rural India’s small farmers. Indian political institutions are simultaneously lauded as extremely stable, highly-prone to decentralized rebellion, and models for voice and innovation from which the rest of the world has much to learn. Overall, this course assists student engagement with the political economy literature – historical and contemporary – in order to analyze the nature of political, economic and social change driven by and for agriculturalists in rural India.