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Viewing: PSCI 226 C1: Ethnic Conflict

Last approved: Wed, 26 Sep 2018 17:32:00 GMT

Last edit: Tue, 25 Sep 2018 18:44:21 GMT

First Name Last Name Userid Title Home School Org Short Name
Nicholas Sambanis sambanis PROFESSOR A School of Arts and Sciences Political Science
Spring 2019
Fall 2018
Ethnic Conflict
This course explains ethnic conflict, focusing on its most violent form, civil war. There have been more than 170 civil wars and many more episodes of lower-level armed conflict around the world since 1945. Most of these conflicts have been fought along ethnic lines. Antipathies and competition between ethnic groups are a constant feature of human history. Across societies, there is evidence of in-group bias and out-group prejudice in human behavior. Some theorists argue that people are hard-wired to dislike –and even fight against— members of ethnic out-groups. But large-scale ethnic violence is relatively rare. Under what conditions does ethnic conflict become violent and when does that violence rise to the level of civil war? What interventions are effective in ending these wars and returning countries to peace? Is ethnic conflict rooted in economic factors, such as poverty, growth decline, commodity price shocks, or dependence on mineral wealth? Or is it due to political reasons, such as repression, authoritarianism, or political exclusion of minority groups? This course addresses these questions from an inter-disciplinary perspective, drawing on quantitative political science, history, social psychology, and behavioral economics. By the end of the course, students should be able to discuss these questions with reference to ongoing cases of civil war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria as well as historical cases such as Bosnia and Rwanda.
Every Other Term

Foundational Approach

Course usually offered in spring term
Cross Cultural Analysis
Standing Faculty
Standing Faculty
Expose students to the social-scientific study of ethnic conflict and civil war. Help them think about how to approach questions in political science and how to develop a research design for their projects.

Methods of Assessment

Varies - see syllabus (these are the actual assignments, not expected or representative ones)
short paper; midterm (IDs, short essay; longer essay); final presentation or debate; final exam (take home essay)

Cross Cultural Analysis

The course explores the socio-economic roots of violent conflict across societies, over time. It also discusses the role of political institutions in mitigating inter-group conflict.
The course explores religious, ethnic, and class-based identities as possible contributors to violent conflict across countries. It also considers whether and how social/cultural norms reduce inter-group conflict.
The course focuses on whether social norms reduce conflict between groups that can arise because of ascriptive differences. It also explores how the rule of law can be created in societies emerging from war.
The course teaches students how to think about measuring cultural differences in a social-scientific way. It also teaches the students that the salience of group identities varies across socio-economic contexts and that it is influenced by political institutions.

Cultural Diversity in the US


Quantitative Data Analysis

Introductory courses in comparative politics, international relations, and economics. At least one course in quantitative methods will be helpful.

Formal Reasoning


Administrative Fields

Committee Reader
Molly McGlone
Key: 808