Below you will find core and elective classes offered by our MAPSS faculty in the Spring 2020 quarter. We will continue to add relevant course descriptions as they are made available. Please note that course offerings, instructors, dates, and times are all subject to change. Please visit the University's Time Schedule for the most up to date list of courses.

Spring Quarter

Political Behavior and Computational Social Science

MAPS 30122/1

In this course, students will be introduced to a combination of topics and theories of political behavior. We will cover different approaches, including political psychology, political sociology, and rational choice behavioral models. The course will cover some methodological challenges to study attitudes and behavior, and how Computational Social Science techniques can help to overcome them. Students will have the chance to develop their own project, with instructor's guidance, and apply CSS approaches to study aspects of political behavior of their choice.


Mon Wed Fri : 09:30 AM-10:20 AM


Large-Scale Computing for the Social Sciences

MAPS 30123/1

Computational social scientists increasingly need to grapple with data that is either too big for a single machine and/or code that is too resource intensive to process on a single machine. In this course, students will learn how to effectively scale their computational methods beyond their local machines. The focus of the course will be social scientific applications, ranging from training machine learning models on large economic time series to processing and analyzing social media data in real-time. Students will be introduced to several large-scale computing frameworks such as MPI, MapReduce, Spark, and OpenCL, with a special emphasis on employing these frameworks using cloud resources and the Python programming language.


Mon Wed : 09:30 AM-11:20 AM


Machine Learning for Political Analysis

MAPS 30133/1

This is an intermediate-to-advanced introduction to the mathematical and computational aspects of the core statistical and machine learning techniques. The goal is to equip students with a knowledge of the theoretical and practical aspects of four groups of machine learning methods which are widely used in applied research: (1) dimension reduction (PCA, MDS, and their extensions) (2) classification methods (SVM, Bayes classifiers, and other classification methods) (3) clustering procedures and density estimation (K-means, FMM, non- and semi-parametric Bayesian methods) (4) categorical data analysis (with brief introduction to probabilistic graphical models). The course includes applications in Political Science, such as FMM to estimate fraud in elections, PCA to construct indices to measure democracy, and text classification.


Mon Wed Fri : 10:30 AM-11:20 AM


Readings: Social Sciences

MAPS 30200/1

Individualized and independent reading course with selected faculty.



Race in Contemporary American Society

MAPS 30233/1

This survey course in the sociology of race offers a socio-historical investigation of race in American society. We will examine issues of race, ethnic and immigrant settlement in the United States. Also, we shall explore the classic and contemporary literature on race and inter-group dynamics. Our investigative tools will include an analysis of primary and secondary sources, multimedia materials, photographic images, and journaling. While our survey will be broad, we will treat Chicago and its environs as a case study to comprehend the racial, ethnic, and political challenges in the growth and development of a city.


Wed : 09:30 AM-12:20 PM


Computing for the Social Sciences

MAPS 30500/1

This is an applied course for social scientists with little-to-no programming experience who wish to harness growing digital and computational resources. The focus of the course is on generating reproducible research through the use of programming languages and version control software. Major emphasis is placed on a pragmatic understanding of core principles of programming and packaged implementations of methods. Students will leave the course with basic computational skills implemented through many computational methods and approaches to social science; while students will not become expert programmers, they will gain the knowledge of how to adapt and expand these skills as they are presented with new questions, methods, and data. More information can be found at


Mon Wed : 01:30 PM-02:50 PM


MA Writing and Research

MAPS 30600/1

Student initiated research and writing for the MA thesis.



Foucauldian Analytics of Power

MAPS 31502/1

The topic of this graduate seminar will be Foucault's pathbreaking theorization of power. After briefly examining alternative conceptions of power in political thought, we will consider the impetus for Foucault's post-archaeological turn to the question of power and track the development of the concept through his publications and lecture courses. Our basic aim will be to grasp the particularities of the forms of power he identifies (disciplinary power, biopower, pastoral power), with special attention to their historical specificity, relation to knowledge and the subject, and modes of resistance, as well as the theme of political rationality. Along the way we will ask: What is it possible to say about power in general? What political possibilities do these analytics open or foreclose? The last few weeks of the course will be devoted to recent book-length studies that theorize power-relations through a Foucauldian lens.


Thu : 02:00 PM-04:50 PM


Sarah Baartman through Schitt's Creek: An Introduction to Gender and Popular Culture

MAPS 31503/1

Throughout the twentieth century, scholars from Simone de Beauvoir through Judith Butler have argued that genders are learned, enacted and ascribed identities, worked out through interaction. As such, the production of 'gender' is carried out to some extent in relation to cultural models and artifacts that people use to make sense of, model and reject gendered identities, characteristics and roles. This course takes popular culture, including film, television, literature and social media, as a starting point for understanding the often taken-for granted characteristics deemed gendered in Western culture and elsewhere. Attending to race, class, sexuality, age and other social categorizations throughout, we will draw on representation and cultural theory as well as ethnographic works, mingling a close reading of theorists such as Erving Goffman and bell hooks with detailed attention to the latest reality show or trending hashtag. While we will focus primarily on the most widely disseminated and economically powerful imagery, we will also attend to alternative, resistant and activist media. This is an introductory graduate-level course; graduate students at all levels are invited to join, selected spots are reserved for advanced undergraduates.


Tue : 12:30 PM-03:20 PM


Ethnographic Approaches to Power and Resistance

MAPS 31504/1

This introductory graduate course will examine understandings of power articulated by influential political theorists and ethnographers. We will explore key theoretical concepts, including discipline, governmentality, sovereignty, hegemony, agency, and resistance, as well as their application within textured, intersubjective, and affectively oriented ethnographic texts. Seeing power grounded in tentative and unstable practices, we will focus on the tensions between nation-states, informal networks, and the actions and aspirations of individual subjects. How are attempts to consolidate power articulated in performances, narrative histories, and acts of exclusion and violence? How are competing de facto and de jure powers negotiated in various spaces ranging from the institutional to the intimate? The centrality of both physical violence and the complacency born of the naturalized hegemony of political institutions and economic rationality will arise in our examinations of political mobilization and possibility. This course will give students opportunities to develop conceptual understandings of various modes of power that offer insights into the forces of colonialism, global interconnectivity, and violence that shape the 21st century world.


Tue : 12:30 PM-03:20 PM


Critical Approaches to Labor Studies

MAPS 31505/1

Work occupies a central role in our lives. This course will provide a critical overview of labor studies. We will cover topics such as the concept of the working class; labor process theory; perspectives on labor market segmentation based on race, ethnicity, gender, class and migrant status; the types of jobs that are available in the labor market, and what they mean for the workers who hold them. While covering the entire field of labor studies is beyond the scope of any single course, we will draw upon selected readings examining occupations in agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality and high-tech sectors from different parts of the world. This course is open to students across disciplines interested in critical labor studies. Parts of senior honors or MAPSS thesis can be submitted as writing assignments for the course. It is particularly recommended for thesis writers.


Wed : 04:30 PM-07:20 PM


Research Practice Partnerships in Education

MAPS 33009/1

Research and data are vital for educational improvement, yet researchers often wonder why their findings are not used in practice while policymakers and practitioners long for useful information to guide their work. Research-practice partnerships provide a mechanism for producing research that is relevant to decision-making and useful to practice. They focus research on questions that are immediately pressing to practice, incorporate practitioner knowledge, and communicate findings in ways that are attentive to the broader political context in which educators work. In this class, we will examine the ways in which data and research are used in policy and practice. We will consider the various conceptual models that exist around the production and use of research, and the realities of how those models operate in practice. We will learn about different approaches to conducting research-practice partnerships, and examine particular examples of work-considering how the work was done, what was learned, and how the research was used in policy or practice. The course will also consider the challenges involved in developing and maintaining research-practice partnerships, and structures that can facilitate the work.


Tue Thu : 03:30 PM-04:50 PM


Transnational Queer Politics and Practices

MAPS 33129/1

This course aims to examine gender and sexual practices and identities in a transnational perspective. As people and ideas move across national, cultural, and racial borders, how is sexuality negotiated and redefined? How are concepts such as "global queerness" and the globalization of sexualities leveraged for change? How are queer identities and practices translated, both culturally and linguistically? To explore transnational articulations of queerness we will draw on a range of theoretical perspectives, including postcolonial, feminist, queer, and indigenous approaches to the study of sexualities. We will engage with scholarship on the politics of global gay rights discourses, on the sexual politics of migration, and on the effects of colonialism and neoliberal capitalism. By analyzing queer experiences and practices in a transnational context, our goal is to decenter and challenge Western-centric epistemologies and to dive into the complexities of cultural representations of queerness around the globe.


Tue Thu : 03:30 PM-04:50 PM


Gender, Sex, and Empire

MAPS 33501/1

This course examines the complex and contested relationships between gender, sex, sexuality, social organization and power in histories of (primarily British) imperialism and colonialism from the early conquests in the New World through the twentieth century. Employing insights from gender history, postcolonial studies and feminist theory, we look at a broad range of historical case studies to explore themes such as the intersectionality of race, class and gender; the instability of gender ideologies; how power was articulated through the categories of gender and sexuality; the politics of intimacy; and the regulation and 'improvement' of colonial bodies. Our goal is to better understand the ways that gender, sex, sexuality and Western imperialism were co-constitutive in distinctive colonial contexts, and the ways that techniques of power were borrowed, adapted and homogenized across the Western imperial world in response to changing political and economic imperatives.


Thu : 02:00 PM-04:50 PM


War, Law, Norms: Violence and Its Limits

MAPS 33600/1

Violent contention is ubiquitous in the human past, but so are ethical norms and legal rules which seek to put limits on permissible attacks against others. Do they work? Can scraps of paper, or collective conscience, put the brakes on a dynamic of destruction which would otherwise lead to unconstrained killing? This graduate colloquium will look at this fundamental question through the lens of a rapidly evolving historical literature on the laws and ethics of war, ranging from the arbitration of blood feuds in the Icelandic Sagas through the surprising influence of the much-derided 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war on the unfolding of 21st century history.

McCallum III

Wed : 09:30 AM-12:20 PM


Language, Culture and Development

MAPS 34700/1

This course is designed to be an interdisciplinary class that explores research in early cognitive development within the field of language, culture and the self. We will discuss a variety of topics in cognitive development, as well as important questions concerning language and culture. This course will touch upon on research across development to document early biases in human reasoning that might persist through the lifespan, and will emphasize how we can use basic science research to inform educational goals and make positive contributions to addressing issues related to language and culture.


Tue : 12:30 PM-03:20 PM


Anthropology of Israel

MAPS 35150/1

This seminar explores the dynamics of Israeli culture and society through a combination of weekly screenings of Israeli fiction and documentary films with readings from ethnographic and other relevant research. Among the (often overlapping) topics to be covered in this examination of the institutional and ideological construction of Israeli identity/ies: the absorption of immigrants; ethnic, class, and religious tensions; the kibbutz; military experience; the Holocaust; evolving attitudes about gender and sexuality; the struggle for minorities' rights; and Arab-Jewish relations.


Tue : 03:30 PM-06:20 PM


Watergate and American Democracy

MAPS 36601/1

Contemporary American history begins with the Watergate crisis and the resignation of Richard Nixon from the presidency. But how does Watergate fit into the wider fabric of American history? This course considers the implications of Watergate for American democracy in a wider chronological perspective, beginning with the revolutionary generation's ambivalence about monarchical power and ending with the legacies of Nixon's scandal for his successors

McCallum III

Tue Thu : 09:30 AM-10:50 AM


Coding & Analyzing Qualitative Data: Using Open-Source Computer Asst. Qualitative Data Analysis

MAPS 40177/1

This is a graduate-level course in coding and analyzing qualitative data (e.g., interview transcripts, oral histories, focus groups, letters, and diaries, etc.). In this hands-on-course students learn how to organize and manage text-based data in preparation for analysis and final report writing of small scale research projects. Students use their own laptop computers to access one of two free, open-source software programs available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. While students with extant interview data can use it for this course, those without existing data will be provided text to code and analyze. This course does not cover commercial CAQDAS, such as AtlasTi, NVivo, The Ethnograph or Hypertext.


Tue Thu : 12:30 PM-01:50 PM