Research Opportunities

Gov 92r

Gov 92r allows you to conduct research in the Government department for academic credit. It is graded SAT/UNSAT. If you are interested in any of these projects, please contact the supervisors directly. You will need to submit the Gov 92r form (available in CGIS K151 and here) to the Government Undergraduate Office in CGIS K151 before you can register for the course on my.harvard.

Fall 2018

Melani Cammett
The Historical Roots of Development in the Middle East: Construction of the MENAHDA database

The project focuses on the roots of distinct economic and social development trajectories in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and aims to generate insights for social science debates on development pathways in post-colonial contexts. The most immediate tasks for the project entail the construction of a large-scale database entitled the Middle East/North Africa Historical Data Archive (MENAHDA), which will ultimately become a publicly accessible resource for scholars and policymakers around the world. Hosted on Dataverse, the website and companion database will be a permanent online repository for the tables of more than 1,000 statistical yearbooks from the MENA region, which were published by the Ottoman state, European colonial powers and post-independence governments in more than sixteen countries in the region. These publications report a wide range of statistics at the national and sub-national levels, such as monthly temperature and precipitation data, price indices for key commodities, national and municipal budgets, census figures, public infrastructure, and agricultural statistics, to name a few examples.
In the next few years, I plan to use the MENAHDA data to co-author a variety of papers with Gabriel Koehler-Derrick and Allison Hartnett on distinct economic and social development trajectories in the region. I am also in the preliminary stages of research for a new book manuscript that examines how distinct approaches to managing ethnoreligious diversity in the colonial and post-independence periods shaped welfare regimes in the Middle East. Research assistants for the project would collect data from resources available at the Harvard Libraries and assist in the compilation of statistical databases.
Prerequisites (courses and/or methodological skills): Basic familiarity with Excel is essential. Knowledge of basic statistical software such as Stata or R and/or intermediate knowledge of French or Arabic are a plus but not a requirement.
Contact: If you're interested, send a CV, 2 references, and a short paragraph on why this project interests you to:
mcammett@g.harvard.edu and koehlerderrick@g.harvard.edu
 

Leslie Finger
State Education Policy Project

This project will track how education policy has changed and is changing across the states. The student will track legislation changing teacher tenure policy, enacting performance pay, encouraging integrated schools, enacting vouchers, and other policy areas. The student will also research how the characteristics of state education chiefs have changed over time. There will be short readings throughout on the education reform movement and the state of education politics. Students also will write a short paper analyzing policy developments in education.
Prerequisites (courses and/or methodological skills): none. Excel experience a plus but not required.
Contact: If you're interested, send a CV, 2 references, and a short paragraph on why this project interests you to: Leslie Finger (
lfinger@fas.harvard.edu)
 

Jennifer Hochschild
Politics and Ideology of Genomic Science

Helping to design and implement an online survey of ~500 experts in genomic science across many disciplines -- then following up to increase response rates or correct errors in initial communication, analyzing the survey results, comparing results to a prior version of this survey done 5 years ago.
Prerequisites (courses and/or methodological skills): good  computer search skills, knowledge of or interested in learning Qualtrics, spreadsheet.
Contact: If you're interested, send a CV, 2 references, and a short paragraph on why this project interests you to: Jennifer Hochschild (
hochschild@gov.harvard.edu)
 

Horacio Larreguy
The Effect of Education on Political Engagement Across Regime Type: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

There are good reasons to believe that the direction of education’s effect on political participation in developing democracies may vary depending on the extent of democratic institutions. Understanding if and when education increases political participation is crucial for comprehending the potentially critical role that it might play for democratic consolidation, which remains a contentious issue in the literature. We are interested in the relationship between education and political participation across six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that vary significantly in the strength of their democratic institutions. The student will assist researching specific details (e.g. how opposition was organized, mobilization strategies, etc.) about the political situation of the countries in each of the elections in our sample.
Prerequisites (courses and/or methodological skills): None.
Contact: If you're interested, send a CV, 2 references, and a short paragraph on why this project interests you to:
hlarreguy@fas.harvard.edu
 

Payam Mohseni
Iranian Regional Security Policy and Sectarian De-Escalation in the Middle East

This project focuses on sectarian politics in the Middle East and Iran’s regional foreign policy. In specific, attention will be paid to the “Axis of Resistance” comprising of Iran, Iraq and Syria as well as various non-state actors such as Hezbollah, Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi and other militia actors.  We will be looking at larger geo-political struggles, social transformations, and political thought affecting Axis players. Researchers may also be required to undertake analysis of Saudi and GCC state foreign policies, as well as Sunni Salafi movements in the Middle East. Responsibilities will include news and analysis monitoring, collecting and synthesizing secondary scholarship, and attending and summarizing talks/events pertaining to the research project.
Prerequisites (courses and/or methodological skills): Reading ability in Arabic or Persian is preferred but not required.
Contact: If you're interested, send a CV, 2 references, and a short paragraph on why this project interests you to:
Payam_Mohseni@hks.harvard.edu
 

Thomas Remington
Labor Markets and Wage Inequality in Comparative Perspective

As part of a larger research project comparing wage and income inequality in the United States, Russia, and China, I wish to analyze labor market institutions in other large, developed, heterogeneous states.  Canada poses a particularly apt point of reference because, like the United States, it is territorially large and heterogeneous, with a federal constitution and a developed capitalist economy.  However, despite rising concentration of labor market income gains at the high end of the distribution, it has not experienced wage stagnation and middle class shrinkage to the same degree as the United States.  I would like an RA to gather data on labor market trends and institutions in Canada at the federal and province levels over the past four decades in order to inform a comparison with the United States on the ways in which labor market institutions such as employment and labor law enforcement, anti-trust regulation, and minimum wage law influence wages at the low and middle ends of the distribution.  The broad hypothesis is that politically-established labor market institutions in Canada buffer low-wage workers against some of the effects of global trade integration, technological change, and monopsony labor market power that have driven down wage and social benefits levels in the United States. 
Prerequisites (courses and/or methodological skills): Familiarity with Excel
Contact: If you're interested, send a CV, 2 references, and a short paragraph on why this project interests you to: Thomas F. Remington (
tremington@fas.harvard.edu)
 

James Snyder
The Growth of Political Advertising and Product Advertising in the U.S.

Political advertising and the advertising of consumer products both increased dramatically during the 20th Century.  The ultimate goal of the project is to understand the causes of this growth. To begin we need good measures of the key dependent variables -- i.e. the amounts of advertising.  This semester students will collect this data for selected newspapers for the period 1900 to 1960. They will search in on-line newspapers (Proquest, newspaperarchive.com, newspapers.com) for political and non-political advertisements and code characteristics of these advertisements in spreadsheets.  Each student will write a short paper describing the changes they have found in 3-5 selected newspapers, and comparing the findings across newspapers.
Prerequisites (courses and/or methodological skills): Familiarity with either Stata or R is good but not necessary.
Contact: If you're interested, send a CV, 2 references, and a short paragraph on why this project interests you to:
jsnyder@gov.harvard.edu