2021 Pre-Conference Short Courses

Pre-conference short courses provide diverse opportunities, either half day or full day, for professional development and offer attendees the chance to connect with scholars from a range of backgrounds. They are sponsored by APSA Organized Sections and other affiliated organizations.  APSA will offer pre-conference short courses as part of the in-person event format.  These courses will run on Wednesday, September 29, in Seattle. In-person attendees can register as part of the registration process for short courses. There is an additional $25 fee for pre-conference short courses. All short course participants must be registered for the Annual Meeting and have a badge before attending.

Shane Nordyke
Half Day, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 603

In this short course. Dr. Mitchell Brown and Shane Nordyke, (current and former editors of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning section of JPSE) will provide participants an overview of the essential expectations for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) in Political Science.  We will cover a broad range of SOTL topics and methods, highlighting what reviewers most frequently looked for in articles.  Participants will learn how to design effective SOTL research in a variety of contexts including large lectures, small sections, at research and teaching institutions, graduate student sections, interdisciplinary approaches, qualitative approaches, and cross-institution collaborations. Participants will also learn strategies to take their current SOTL research to the next level by learning how to strengthen their research design or improve the quality of their evidence.  The workshop will highlight exemplars of SOTL work from the Journal of Political Science Education over the last five years and offer participants time to design or improve current SOTL projects in small groups.

Kevin Hickson
Full Day, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 612

Recent years have seen unprecedented upheavals in both British and US politics. The 2016 referendum on continued membership of the European Union caused deep divisions, leading to two general elections, parliamentary gridlock and public demonstrations. Formal withdrawal was achieved in early 2020 and the trade deal announced on Christmas Eve, taking effect on 1st January 2021. Meanwhile in the USA the defeat of Donald Trump in November’s presidential election led to his calling the result into question and the storming of Congress.

Now, with both Brexit and the Presidential election resolved the aim of this one-day short course is to explain why these events happened and what the future holds.

The ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US may be challenged as never before. President Biden has professed his support for the European Union and disappointment at Britain’s withdrawal. Several leading advocates of Brexit had pinned their hopes on a trade deal with the US under the seemingly more sympathetic presidency of Mr Trump. The change of presidency may pose an obstacle to obtaining a trade deal going forward.

The future of US and UK politics is open to speculation in other ways. Some commentators on both sides of the Atlantic argued that the Trump presidency and Brexit were expressions of ‘populism’. Some hope that the apparent rejection of populism in the US with the election of Joe Biden will also spell the end of populism in Britain. However, for the moment at least, cultural conflicts remain deep in both countries.

Recent events also bring into new focus the role of both the US and the UK in geo-politics- what form will Anglo-American relations with China and Russia take? Will there be renewed interest in a global environmental agreement?

Finally, both countries have been severely challenged by the global pandemic, being among the worst affected countries in the developed world. Will this lead to a new social and economic settlement in both countries?

In addition to panelists invited by the BPG, we are open to proposals from other scholars whose research is appropriate to the topic. Interested participants should send individual paper or panel proposals to the conference organizer, KEVIN HICKSON (University of Liverpool, UK) at k.hickson@liverpool.ac.uk no later than 1st June 2021. Please include an abstract (200 words maximum), institutional affiliation, and e-mail contact. For full panel proposals, please make sure to include a brief panel abstract in addition to the individual paper abstracts, and full contact information for all panel participants. Volunteers to serve as discussants and panel chairs would be greatly appreciated. Further information can be found at the British Politics Group website www.britishpoliticsgroup.com.

NOTE: Accepted participants are requested to become members of the British Politics Group and must register for the full APSA conference in order to register for the short course. Short course registration involves a small fee that is collected by APSA.

Half Day, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 604

Organizer: Political Organizations and Parties (POP) Section
Timothy M. LaPira, James Madison University (POP secretary)
Beth L. Leech, Rutgers University (POP past president)

There is a growing range of data sources available for the study of the advocacy efforts of organized interests and a growing ability to address interesting questions that had long been left on the sidelines. This workshop introduces some of the largest and most useful data sets for studying interest groups and instructs participants in how to use those data. The data sources discussed include reports filed under the US Lobbying Disclosure Act and data about the policy positions of US interest groups collected by the MapLight nonprofit organization, and a wide range of data about the advertising efforts of US interest groups, collected through the Wesleyan Media Project, the Federal Communications Commission, and social media sites themselves. The short course will also feature presentations about data for interest groups in the European Union and the United Kingdom, as collected by the Comparative Interest Groups survey project and the INTERARENA project.

Presenters during the workshop will include:

Jesse M. Crosson (Trinity University), Alexander C. Furnas (Northwestern University), and Geoffrey M. Lorenz (University of Nebraska) on interest group positions data from MapLight.org.

Timothy M. LaPira (James Madison University) and Herschel F. Thomas III (West Virginia University) on using data from the Lobbying Disclosure Act

Travis Ridout (Washington State University), Erika Fowler (Wesleyan University) and Michael Franz (Bowdoin College) on interest group advocacy through advertising

Jan Beyers (University of Antwerp) on the Comparative Interest Group survey project and its cross-national data sets

Helene Helboe Pedersen (Aarhus University) on the INTERARENA project.

Megan Becker
Half Day, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 616

Are you looking to work with undergraduate researchers, but are concerned about balancing the needs of your students with your other professional obligations? Have you been working with undergraduate researchers, but want to increase your impact? Why not start a research lab? In this workshop, organized in conjunction with Pi Sigma Alpha, attendees will learn how to use the laboratory model to organize collaborative undergraduate research experiences.  We will cover the ‘why,’ ‘what,’ and ‘how’ of starting your own research lab. Our facilitator, Megan Becker, runs the Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab at the University of Southern California and is  PI of the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program “Data Science and the Political Economy of Security.”  The pedagogical approach employed by the SPEC Lab, called the Stewardship Model, combines five key elements: 1) targeted recruitment of underserved students; 2) technical training; 3) applied research experience; 4) multi-level mentorship; and 5) a carefully constructed, inclusive learning community. These five elements will serve as the thematic foundations of the workshop. 

Attendees will…
1) hear perspectives of faculty on starting a research lab and the implementation and efficacy of the Stewardship Model
2) brainstorm ideas for how they might integrate collaborative teams of UGs in their own research projects
3) review useful policies for recruitment, student training, securing funding, organizing collaboration, and maintaining mentoring relationships (with discussions of how to do so at differing scales).
4) discuss strategies for evaluation
5) create a community of faculty who are interested in UG research labs and can share ideas and best practices on an ongoing basis

Half Day, 1:30 – 5:30 PM
Washington State Convention Center, 603

The Political Economy (PE) organized section of the American Political Science Association is seeking applications from junior scholars for a pre-conference research workshop, held the Wednesday prior to the APSA annual meeting. The workshop aims to provide feedback on a specific paper as well as the broader research program of scholars underrepresented in the political economy field; in doing so, the section seeks to foster greater inclusivity and diversity within the PE community. Dimensions of diversity could include, among other things, race and ethnic identity; gender; non-R1 (“research intensive”) academic institutions; and home departments with little or no presence of other political economy scholars. The workshop is open to tenure-track, non-tenure track, post-docs, and advanced ABD candidates close to completing their Ph.D. dissertation.

Each junior scholar will be asked to present a working paper. We will pair each presenter with a senior PE scholar, sharing similar substantive interests. The senior scholar will offer constructive feedback on the manuscript and provide more generalized mentoring guidance during the workshop and the dinner that follows. Other workshop participants also will offer feedback and participate in the conversation about each paper. We will select three junior scholars for this inaugural workshop. The Political Economy section will defray the costs of participation (lodging and meals) with a $750 travel grant for each paper presenter.

Interested applicants should submit a two-page proposal indicating how they would benefit from this research workshop, identifying between three and five senior scholars they believe could provide helpful feedback on the paper, and discussing their eligibility for this workshop. In addition, each applicant should submit a PDF version of the working paper they will present if selected to participate. Scholars working in any part of the political economy tradition, broadly construed, are welcome to apply. Please share this call with ABDs and recent PhDs who may be interested, but who are not currently members of the Political Economy section.
***Deadline for applications is March 31, 2021. The link to the application is https://forms.gle/yvpitpkJ6hGVfodr9.

Committee Members:
Layna Mosley (Princeton University); Lisa Blaydes (Stanford University); and Ethan Buena de Mesquita (University of Chicago

Colin Elman
Half Day, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 609

There are strong professional incentives to collecting one’s own data in graduate school, and original fieldwork tends to yield compelling projects. This series of two short courses is aimed at two audiences: (1) graduate students considering or conducting fieldwork, and (2) advisors and mentors who navigate dissertation prospectus advising roles.

The goal of the two short courses is to pool practical advice about best practices, with an eye toward minimizing start-up costs for prospective field workers. Research design and measurement issues are discussed in passing, but much of the course content is broader advising issues involving psychological and physical well-being, professionalization, management, self-presentation, and professional ethics. The course theme is “improvisational pluralism”: an ethos-based appreciation that fieldwork rewards an ability to improvise and adapt when constraints are discovered or things go wrong. Planning helps, but taking advantage of opportunities as they arise may require shifting approaches. The focus on pluralism is also a recognition that conducting high-integrity observations of another society requires special kinds of preparation and demands a certain degree of methodological flexibility. In this short course, we assume that a mature attitude toward pluralism begins by taking a diversity of aesthetic opinions seriously, listening respectfully, and appreciating the myriad ways of understanding what ought to “count” as a contribution. On the other hand, planning can maximize the probability that fieldwork will enable scholarly output.

The morning session of the short course is focused on pre-fieldwork planning, project management, and an overview of various empirical research techniques. Material is divided into three modules, separated by a short break.

The first module, with Jesse Driscoll and Gareth Nellis, will discuss pre-fieldwork basics, emphasizing the value of design pre-registration (for certain projects) and non-adversarial dialogue with IRBs, getting small trips funded, pre-departure logistical checklists, language triage, and site scouting.

The second module will focus on challenges related to “management” strategies — specifically recruiting and running a local team, managing workers remotely, and dealing with unexpected disruptions (e.g., COVID).

The third module, led by Ben Read and Jennifer Cyr, will by contrast focus on “solo laborer” fieldwork strategies, with a particular focus on when to employ one-on-one interview techniques and when to consider running focus groups.

Colin Ellman
Half Day, 1:30 – 5:30 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 609

There are strong professional incentives to collecting one’s own data in graduate school, and original fieldwork tends to yield compelling projects. The search for the most compelling possible project can sometimes entail risks, however. This is the second of a two-part short course aimed at two audiences: (1) graduate students considering or conducting fieldwork, and (2) early-career advisors and mentors who navigate dissertation prospectus advising roles. This session focuses more on troubleshooting research and designs that may involve weighing risks to subjects or researchers. This bleeds into issues of psychological and physical well-being, professionalization, management, self-presentation, and professional ethics. The course theme is “improvisational pluralism”: an ethos-based appreciation that fieldwork rewards an ability to improvise and adapt when constraints are discovered or things go wrong.

Since many of the salient adaptations in the past year have responded to pandemic restrictions, there is a special emphasis in the afternoon panel on internet-enabled research, “virtual” fieldwork, and common issues related to fieldwork in dangerous settings. We envision three different modules, separated by small breaks and a robust Q&A among participants.

The fourth module, led by Jennifer Cyr, will discuss emerging issues related to virtual fieldwork, conducting interviews over Zoom, the recruitment of long-distance samples, and the like.

The fifth module, with Sarah Parkinson and Jesse Driscoll, will focus on planning, self-presentation, and troubleshooting for research designs in zones of contested sovereignty or authoritarian governance.

The sixth module, led by Calla Hummel and Dana El Kurd, will address common mental health issues involved with both fieldwork and professional re-entry after fieldwork.

Titus Alexander
Half Day, 1:30 – 5:30 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 616

How can we teach non-partisan, practical political education across the curriculum?
This short course covers a range of tried and tested methods for developing political understanding and skill across the curriculum, including how to
• make the most of ‘teachable moments’
• create learning communities in a class or lecture programme, using peer induction, electing class representatives and devils’ advocates; setting up study buddies, huddles, buzz groups and action learning sets;
• use reflection and feedback at the end of every lesson
• tackle controversial issues constructively
• make the most of invited activists, politicians and practitioners
• base assignments on real-life tasks, projects or community service
• twin with learners in the local community or other countries
• explore issues of power and exclusion
• use a Solutions Focus and Systems Thinking approach to problem solving
• present theories as stories, pictures and diagrams
• teach Theories of Change and how to plan and develop a campaign
• evaluate the impact of your course
This course is participative and informative, drawing on ‘Practical Politics: Lessons in Power and Democracy’ (2016, UCL IoE/Trentham) about teaching democratic politics in civil society, schools and university as well as examples from four decades of experience in civic education, engagement and advocacy in the UK at a local, national and international level, as well as research into the impact of social science and evaluation of education. The author is a regular contributor to the World Forum for Democracy, hosted by the Council of Europe, and has published widely on deepening democracy, including Family Learning: The Foundation of Effective Education (Demos 1997), Citizenship Schools: A practical guide (2001), and Unravelling Global Apartheid: An overview of world politics (Polity/Blackwell’s, 1996). He runs an advanced apprenticeship in campaigning and leadership for trade unions, and founded Democracy Matters, an alliance for learning practical politics. He created the Charter 99 for Global Democracy campaign and Uniting Humanity, a trainer of trainers’ programme in global citizenship.

Full Day, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 606

Almost three years after its outbreak, the Yellow Vest movement remains a socio-political event which questions our understanding of contemporary social movements and of the French social and political landscape.
The yellow vest movement appears as a rich case study to understand the inner dynamic of social movements but also the evolution of contemporary forms of collective action in the past ten years. It also challenges classical assumptions about participation, contentious repertoire, media coverage and protest events. As other recent movements, it is spontaneous mobilization which has not been supported by any social movement organization, and which has been building itself (its claims, songs, forms of actions and organization, identities of reference) incrementally during the protest itself (and consequently requires a processual approach).
It is also a multi-faceted phenomenon where relative innovations in the use of action repertory have been shown and which has brought together new protest actors and a singular variety of activists. The Yellow vest movement has gathered individuals from various social and political backgrounds, with a very important component of popular backgrounds previously considered by scholars as distant from politics and protest action.

This mini-conference combine three perspectives:
First, it offers the opportunity to take stock of the current researches on the phenomenon. Various panels will present an overview of the knowledge recently accumulated on the movement, based on presentations of results of original field-based researches on the yellow Vests.
Second it will provide a place to exchange about methodological issues to analyze the various dimensions of a social movement which shares similarities with post-2011 protest movements; such as being spontaneous, coordinated without organizations and attracting heterogeneous types of activists.
Here, contributions based on field-studies using various qualitative and quantitative approaches will shed light on different aspects of the movement such as its activists’ profiles, its forms, dynamics and its evolution. The various sessions will then offer opportunities to discuss the respective benefits, limits and complementarity of the various methods to size social movements. This mini-conference ambition is also here to underline the relevance of mixt-methods, which on the Yellow Vest case prove to be fully complementary, and to strengthen the bridge between “French” and “US” approaches (even it both are obviously heterogeneous) of social movements, politicization processes and socio-political change.
Third, beyond the Yellow Vests movement, the sessions will bring new understanding of the contemporary evolution of the French society, especially by studying parts of its lower and lower-middle classes through various perspectives. Their relationship to politics and more largely to polity will be a main issue of these study. More generally, by comparing methodological choices and results, this mini conference wants also to make a contribution to our understanding of contemporary social movements. Finally, a new insight on contentious politics and repertoire will be provide through original data and literature discussion. Our Mini-Conference addresses three issues:

Who are yellow vest activists? (Quantitative approaches) We already know that the movement has gathered very different types of people, coming from various social backgrounds and showing different political profiles and trajectory: from far-leftist to far-rightist voters, as well as from well-experienced activists to first timers. How can quantitative approaches shed light on it and improve our understanding of the movement through a better knowledge of their members and of the movement dynamic? The panel will cross sociographical analysis of the movement produced by different methodologies that analyze the social, political and spatial dynamics of the movement.

Politicizations trough social movements. Why men and women rebel, and what effect does it have on their life? This panel will be dedicated to the understanding of individual motives of engagement and question how taking part to social movements can affect others (personal/social/political) aspects of life. Paper will focus particularly on the evolution of activist’ relationship to politics, through their discourses and practices.

How the YVM Challenges Social Movements Studies and Assumptions about Contentious Politics. This session will provide insights on the challenges posed by the YVM to our current understanding of Social Movement. Ecology is usually considered as a post-materialist issue and environmental concerns are associated with high incomes, education and social status, the YVM tend to offer another perspective on these findings. Most commentators underlined Women’s involvement in the protest, we will bring a more acute analysis on gender and YVM. Finally, uses and innovation in the repertories of action by the YVM will be question.

Full Day, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 611

We propose this mini-conference because we share Dr. Pippa Norris’ concern about the future of electoral integrity in the U.S.: “Americans will steadily lose faith in the rules of the electoral game if it turns out that players see only a zero-sum contest in which opponents cheat. Where will we be then?” The following section chairs have agreed to co-sponsor the course and help organize content: Susan Burges, The Law and Courts; Race, Bernard Fraga, Ethnicity and Politics; Heather Stoll, Representation and Electoral Systems.

Pippa Norris and Holly Ann Garnett, Director of the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity Project, have also agreed to participate in the event, along with Dr. Matthew Shugart, among the world’s leading experts in electoral system design. We are planning a pre-conference meeting this summer to initiate a conversation about speakers and participants for the APSA course. We are also building organizational and financial support from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the New America Foundation, and donor organizations engaged in democracy promotion. This support will help us 1) bring in the expertise of international experts in democracy reform and 2) support the participation of young and emerging research scholars doing work in this space.

The course can also serve as a preliminary meeting for a Task Force Project on Political Reform. We propose separating the course and project into the following challenge sections:

Challenge: Understanding the Political Crisis in the U.S.
This challenge will address the underlying economic, demographic and ideological causes of the rise of right-wing authoritarianism in the U.S. Experts in race, ethnicity, gender and political ideology will provide a landscape for understanding he current crisis in representation. In addition, we will take in a view from the outside, bringing in the perspective of international democracy building organizations and experts who have been involved with institutional reform in other countries.

Challenge: Securing Voting Rights for All
Many legal and normative questions surround both the efficacy of voting rights reforms such as voter registration and eligibility requirements, election rules, ballot access, ballot design, early mail and in-person voting, and ballot verification procedures, as well as Congress’ authority to require or implement such regulations. Felon enfranchisement, voting age and citizenship requirements should also be evaluated under this challenge area. This challenge section will also welcome the participation of election administrators and practitioners who can contribute to our understanding of how to achieve cross-ideological policy objectives.

Challenge: Political Parties and Reform Coalitions
There is also considerable uncertainty over the role that political parties and leaders are likely to play in reform efforts and the necessary organization building that is required for such efforts to succeed. What are the costs and benefits of particular reforms to existing movements and parties, and potentially new parties? What is the potential role of Black Lives Matter and other reform organizations playing a major role in current policy reform movements? What do potential reform coalitions look like and how do group goals overlap and conflict? What role do funding organizations play and how might their goals be distinct from reformers?

Challenge: Improving Electoral and Party System Performance
Every electoral system has its own virtues and pathologies, and this section would explore those trade-offs in the context of U.S. political institutions and culture. The focus would primarily be on comparisons and trade-offs to more proportional system reforms that have already been widely proposed: single-winner rank choice voting (IRV), single-transferable vote (STV), open-list proportional representation (OLPR), and multi-member proportional (MMP). How well would such reforms fit, both institutionally and politically, with other institutions, and how would they impact the U.S. party system? What recommendations are most viable for election of the House, the Senate, and the Executive?

Challenge: Institutional Reforms Beyond Elections
The final section would explore reforms linked to but distinct from electoral reform, including the policymaking process, and how changes to that process would shape the rendering of representation. Expanding the size of the House, restructuring the committee system, reforming executive and judicial authority, and other institutional reforms will be assessed.

The course will conclude with an assessment of concrete recommendations from each of the challenge areas, the design of a task force report, expectations for completion of the report, a public outreach strategy, and planning for presentation to public and other officials and organizations.

Colin Ellman
Half Day, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 607

This short course will cover the underlying logic and best practices of process tracing, which is a within-case method of developing and testing causal explanations of individual cases.

We will briefly summarize the philosophy of science behind explanation via reference to hypothesized causal mechanisms and then outline the logic of process tracing, which entails asking whether the evidence we find in a case would be more or less plausible if a given explanation of that case is true as compared to a rival explanation. Throughout the session we will emphasize best practices and applications to exemplars of process tracing research. The examples we use will be primarily in international relations and comparative politics, but the methods we discuss are applicable to all the subfields of political science, to sociology, economics, history, business studies, public policy, and many other fields. Students will practice applying process tracing reasoning in small group exercises. As time allows, and depending on the numbers, students will discuss how they plan to use process tracing in their current research so the instructors and fellow students can offer constructive advice on how best to carry it out.

The course will also introduce the logic of Bayesian inference that underlies process tracing and overview key conceptual insights that can help us better evaluate the inferential import of qualitative evidence. Students interested in learning more about the Bayesian approach are encouraged to also take the ‘Bayesian Process Tracing’ short course led by Tasha Fairfield, which will be held in the afternoon of the same day as the present course. Students can benefit by taking either or both courses; we have designed the two short courses so that they complement each other.