Research Specialties

Our faculty is passionate about a wide variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of politics. They are interdisciplinary and multifaceted in their approaches to political science, with expertise ranging from ancient and medieval theory to American institutions to international and comparative politics. Our faculty are scholar-teachers and have won many teaching awards—a testament to their dedication to students. See a list of faculty members by research specialty.

The field of American Politics includes the study of national and local political institutions, the mass media, public opinion, elections and campaigns, political participation, political psychology, gender, race, public policy, interest groups and political parties, and constitutional law.

The field of Comparative Politics includes comparative political economy, democratization, and area studies.

The field of International Relations studies important empirical and normative questions relating to international peace and conflict, the behavior of states in the international system, and global challenges, such as climate change, which traverse international borders.

Our faculty is diverse and pluralistic in at least two ways. First, in the subjects we study, which range from international law, treaties, and institutions; US foreign policy; trade and offshoring; the dynamics of armed conflict; nuclear strategy; climate change; and civil-military relations and military recruitment. And second, in the methods we use to study international politics, which include quantitative and experimental, qualitative and historical, as well as interpretive and critical methods. 

The field of Political Methodology develops, and helps to train students in, the research tools employed in answering substantive questions in political science. These tools include both empirical and theoretical modeling, and may adopt either, or both, quantitative and qualitative approaches.
The Political Methodology faculty at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities train students in the applied methods they employ in their substantive work and impart the knowledge necessary such that these students are prepared to teach methods classes later in their careers. Our offerings include work in research design, observational studies and regression, time series analysis, experiments, and formal theory. Our substantive work spans the fields of international relations, comparative politics, political psychology, and political economy.

Political psychology is the study of social attitudes and cognition, judgment and decision-making, group relations, personality and leadership, mass communication, public opinion, political behavior, and political socialization.

In addition to providing students with a background in political psychology, the program trains them in theory and methods useful to the field. This program is also intended to facilitate interactions among graduate students and faculty involved in research in political psychology.

We live in a time of seemingly unprecedented challenges not only to our foundational political ideals, but also to the institutions meant to realize them. Migration and technology have dramatically altered the space in which humans interact, while issues such as climate change, economic crises, genocide, and pandemics have created new political actors, communities, and ways of thinking. These are not merely difficult political problems, they transform the very institutions, relationships, and concepts through which we come to understand what political community is and can be. If politics classically is the exercise of power by rulers over the ruled, how have different communities and traditions sought to organize this power and render it just in the context of radical social and political transformation? How do other histories, counter-histories, and confabulations disorient our usual frames of reference for thinking about political community? What different frames might we use? What should we make of problems that seem to exceed the capacity of existing institutions to manage?

Political Theory faculty at University of Minnesota all variously take up the critical empirical and theoretical analysis of the conditions that have displaced democratic politics from serving as an implicit ideal for contemporary politics around the world. The result is a subfield oriented to problems of imperialism, colonialism, and radical transformative change across a range of topic areas: colonial governance, Black politics and internationalism, French theory and anti-colonial struggle, along with revolutions and Middle Eastern politics. These intellectual and political commitments have been threaded through our graduate and undergraduate curricula. Regardless of interpretive approach, domination, expropriation, and political change lie at the heart of our research mission.

Political Economy explores two overlapping areas of inquiry: the interactions between the polity and the economy, and the use of the tools of neo-classical economics to explain how political and economic institutions produce social outcomes by constraining, reflecting, and shaping the behavior of self-interested individuals.