Steven W. Webster

POLS Y661: Political Psychology and American Political Behavior (graduate; Fall 2020)

Political psychology is concerned with understanding how individuals both think and feel about politics, and how these psychological factors shape political behavior. This graduate seminar provides an introduction to the study of political psychology in the United States. Because this seminar is designed to be an introduction to the field, we will cover a wide range of topics in American politics that have been studied through a psychological lens. Topics we will cover include the source of political opinions and attitudes (e.g. socialization, genetics and politics, social influence), the role of personality and emotions in shaping political behavior, the importance of "motivated reasoning" in public opinion, the origins of misperceptions and conspiracy theories about politics, and the relationship between politically salient groups. Syllabus available here.


POLS Y576: Political Data Analysis II (graduate; Spring 2021, Spring 2022)

This course is designed to build upon the concepts and skills developed in POLS Y575 (Political Data Analysis I). Successful completion of the Y575 course is a prerequisite for enrolling in this course (unless permission has been obtained from the instructor). The first half of the course will introduce students to bivariate and multivariate regression models. We will begin with the linear model, including a discussion of the goals and assumptions of ordinary least squares (OLS). We will also cover models for handling dichotomous dependent variables (logits and probits). The second half of the course will introduce students to the logic of causal inference. Topics covered include DAGs, experiments, difference-in-difference designs, regression discontinuities, and instrumental variables. Syllabus available here.


POLS Y205: Analyzing Politics (undergraduate; Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022)

This course focuses on the question of how political science is done. We will walk through the frameworks guiding our thinking about politics and review descriptive, experimental, and observational approaches to research. Students will learn how to evaluate normative and empirical claims and practice constructing research questions and hypotheses. We will also consider the challenges of interpreting data and making inferences about politics. Syllabus available here.


POLS Y319: The United States Congress (undergraduate; Fall 2021)

This course offers students the opportunity to study the legislative branch of the American national government. Topics covered include the structure and process of the Senate and House of Representatives, Congressional elections, the roles of parties, interest groups, and lobbyists. We will also cover the specifics of the legislative process. Finally, we will consider the relationship between Congress and the other branches of government. Syllabus available here.


POLS Y317: Voting, Elections, and Public Opinion (undergraduate; Spring 2022, Fall 2022)

Determinants of voting behavior in elections. The nature of public opinion on major domestic and foreign policy issues; development of political ideology; other influences on the voting choices of individuals and the outcomes of elections; relationships among public opinion, elections, and the development of public policy. Syllabus available here.