Harris Public Policy is offering the following courses as part of The Pearson Institute’s academic programming in 2022–23. These courses create an intellectual context for conflict study and introduce students to new tools and methodologies.

Students can broaden their perspectives through elective courses at Harris Public Policy and in other schools and divisions, including the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Law School, and Social Sciences Division.

Global Conflict Policy Lab

This course, led by Rebecca J. Wolfe, is held in partnership with Harris Policy Labs, a unique initiative in which teams of second-year students apply their rigorous core education to real-time public policy challenges facing client organizations. Students in this lab were split into teams to work on projects with different clients to tackle real-world conflict and development policy issues through data analysis. Past teams of students have focused on projects such as informing state-level peace policies; developing a database to track labor market access policies for refugee-hosting countries; examining the relationship between climate change and armed conflict; informing survey methodologies for global organizations; and testing assumptions of countering violent extremism interventions.

Hydropolitics: Water Policy and Conflict

Water resources are increasingly contested in nearly all parts of the world. Available freshwater supplies have declined nearly 40 percent since 1970, and the UN predicts that 1.8 billion people will not have sufficient water to meet all of their daily needs by 2025. Water conflict is essentially a political problem because it reflects normative disagreements about who has the authority to define its value and appropriate uses. This course examines conflict over water and policy efforts to deal with intersectoral competition, international allocation, and the diplomatic and economic consequences of water resource depletion. The course, taught by Michael Tiboris, begins with a discussion of water’s status as an object of policy—as property, a commodity, entitlement, and natural good. It then turns to a series of policy challenges in context, including agricultural water use, allocation treaties, development disputes, violence over resource instability, and domestic water justice conflicts.

Nuclear Policy: Dilemmas in Decisionmaking

This course, taught by Kennette Benedict, will examine national and international policies on the uses of nuclear energy—both military and civilian. Students will review current military doctrines and plans for nuclear war-fighting, particularly those of the United States and Russia, as well as the likely effects of nuclear war. The course will review the history of international proliferation of nuclear technology and material as well as contemporary efforts to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons through international treaties and negotiated agreements, such as those with Iran and with North Korea. Students will also review the development of civilian nuclear power and examine current regulatory policies intended to prevent accidents, secure nuclear materials, and dispose of radioactive waste.

Order and Violence

Most countries in the world have been independent for about 50 years. Some are peaceful and have prospered, while some remain poor, war-torn, or both. This course, taught by Chris Blattman, will explore the question: What explains why some countries have succeeded while others remain poor, violent, and unequal? There are no formal prerequisites for this class, but non-Harris students should have a background in economics, statistics, and basic game theory. 

Political Economy of Development

The course, taught by Chris Blattman, will bring PhD students to the frontier of research on such topics as social and political organization, conflict, state-building, collective action, and the political determinants of stability, growth, and development. 

Politics and Public Policy in Latin America

Led by Maria Angélica Bautista, this course will cover the politics of policymaking in Latin America. How do political institutions shape policy outcomes? Why does public policy in Latin America differ from what is socially desirable? And how can other groups, such as civil society or violent actors, also shape policy and welfare in the region? Through an empirical focus on economic development of the region, this course will address how and why Latin America is different by looking at its economic and social policies and political institutions. Students will come to understand the legacy of authoritarianism, gaining the tools to evaluate the weakness of some Latin American states and the prosperity-generating policies of others. This course is for master’s students.

Women, Development, and Politics

This course, jointly taught by Maria Angélica Bautista and Maliha Chishti, explores the dominant and emerging trends and debates in the field of women and international development. The major theoretical perspectives responding to global gender inequities will be explored alongside a wide range of themes impacting majority-world women, such as free market globalization, health and sexuality, race and representation, participatory development, human rights, the environment and participation in politics. Course lectures will integrate policy and practitioner accounts and perspectives to reflect the strong influence development practice has in shaping and informing the field. Course materials will also include anti-racist, postcolonial and post-development interruptions to dominant development discourse, specifically to challenge the underlying biases and assumptions of interventions that are predicated on transforming “them” into “us”. The material will also explore the challenges of women participating in politics and what are the consequences when they do or do not.

Pearson International Conflict Seminar | Jordan

Harris Public Policy students attend a seminar at the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Knowledge Forum in Amman as part of The Pearson Institute's International Conflict Seminar to Jordan in 2018.

Ramin Kohanteb / The Pearson Institute

The Politics of Authoritarian Regimes

This course taught by Alexei Zakharov provides an overview of topics related to politics in authoritarian regimes. We begin by introducing the concept of authoritarianism: how it differs from democracy and how authoritarian regimes differ from each other. We then investigate the tools authoritarian rulers employ to maintain power, including institutions, policies, and tactics, and we examine the effects and side effects of these tools. Finally, we study transitions of power and of institutions, both on the way out of authoritarianism (democratization) and on the way in (democratic backsliding). Students who take this course will acquire a broad understanding of authoritarian politics and how it is covered in the literature.

Global Forced Displacement: Policy and Practice

This course, taught by Cindy Huang, will examine trends in forced displacement, including protracted displacement, shifting geopolitics and drivers, and growing polarization. We will consider impacts on the social and economic inclusion of forced migrants, as well as how forced migrants affect and contribute to host communities where they live and resettle. The course will engage legal and policy dimensions of different types of forced migration (e.g., linked to conflict, natural disasters, and/or climate) and also cover several case studies, including recent responses to those fleeing Afghanistan and Ukraine, and consider their implications for future policy and practice.