Political Science

Political Science at Brown University

The Political Science department enjoys a reputation for intellectual pluralism, creativity and research productivity.

Political Science is one of the largest and most dynamic concentrations at Brown. Undergraduates gain skill in critical thinking, empirical analysis, and normative inquiry, preparing them for leadership careers in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. Our doctoral program features close interaction with professors and offers state-of-the art training in American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.

The department is enriched by its close ties to key research centers, institutes, and programs at Brown, including the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, Modern Culture and Media, Cogut Institute for the Humanities, and Urban Studies.

The department graduates approximately 75 undergraduate concentrators annually, making it one of the larger social science concentrations at Brown.
Brown's community of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars, and faculty members in political science is a close and collegial one.
Brown's Political Science faculty are deeply committed to excellence in both undergraduate teaching and graduate training.

Recent News

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Grammars of Refusal

In one of Wittgenstein's examples in Philosophical Investigations, a so-called "aberrant pupil," instructed to add by twos, does so for a long while and then begins to add by fours. The question posed is whether the pupil has mastered the rule (such that he can confidently innovate on it) or whether he failed to understand it (suggesting he errs when he adds by fours but has been instructed to add by twos)....
Scope Conditions Podcast

Overcoming the Hijab Penalty, with Donghyun Danny Choi

Today on Scope Conditions: what drives discrimination against immigrants – and what can be done about it?

When social scientists have sought to explain anti-immigrant bias, they’ve tended to focus on one of two possible causes: the perceived economic threat that migrants might pose to the native born or the cultural threat driven by differences in race, ethnicity, or religion.

In a new book with Mathias Poertner and Nicholas Sambanis, our guest Donghyun Danny Choi, an assistant professor of political science at Brown, uses an innovative set of field experiments to test an alternative possibility: that the native-born perceive migrants as a threat to longstanding civic norms.

Could anti-immigrant bias be shaped by fears – often unjustified – that newcomers don’t share the same ideas about the meaning and practice of citizenship? Can misperceptions about norm-divergence be corrected? And are there interventions that can actually lead native-born citizens to adopt more cooperative behaviors across ethnic and cultural divides?

In their book Native Bias, Danny and his coauthors try to get at these questions using a wonderfully creative set of experiments, carried out across Germany shortly after the arrival of over a million Syrian refugees. You’ll have to listen to find out how the experiments worked – but for now we’ll just say that they involved dropping thousands of lemons on train platforms.

We talk with Danny about how the team came up with their experimental designs, how they carried them out, and what they found. One of their most interesting findings is that native German women tend to be more accepting of Muslim female migrants who signal that they hold progressive gender norms. But we also push Danny on the implications of the book’s findings. The treatments in the experiments involve immigrants demonstrably signaling their adherence to dominant German values. Even if this signaling works to dampen discrimination, we wondered how exactly this kind of intervention can be scaled up to the societal level. We also talk with Danny about who the book is saying bears the onus of reducing discrimination: is it up to immigrants to “fit in” better or up to natives to examine their own prejudices?

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Political Science
Brown University

111 Thayer Street
Third Floor
Providence, RI 02912

Phone 401-863-2825
Fax 401-863-7018
brownupolisci@brown.edu

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