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States, Markets, and Institutions

Gain the framework to analyze international issues and disputes — including economic, political, and security issues — with an emphasis on problem solving and policy development.


Study issues of governance, including US and non-US institutions, as well as comparative studies and international political economy.

International and Comparative Political Economy of Developing Countries

This course welcomes any student pursuing a degree at SAIS. The main aim of the course is the study of the main international and domestic factors behind the economic and political development and under-development of the countries in the world that are not identified or categorized as ‘advanced’ or ‘mature’ capitalist economies.

While the focus of the course is on countries that are not considered rich or developed (most countries in the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East), we will refer to and use material throughout the course that also covers the rich countries and emerging market ones inasmuch as: 1) they were once underdeveloped or have developed recently, and this experience sheds light on those that have not managed to develop or ‘catch up’; and 2) their own growth and development has been in many cases a cause why others have remained undeveloped (i.e. colonialism, imperialism, dependency). The main analytical tools for the study of the international component come from concepts, theories, case studies, and data from the sub-field of International Political Economy (IPE). In turn, the main tools for the study of the domestic component of developing countries come from the sub-field of Comparative Political Economy (CPE). Hence, the course identifies key overlapping international and domestic factors that have led some countries to be poorer, less developed and more vulnerable than the advanced or mature capitalist ones.

Political Economy of Inequality

What is inequality and how it is has changed over time? In this course we will examine the political, and institutional foundations of income inequality, how to measure it, and its effects on institutional development, political participation, and voting choice.

The determinants of economic and political preferences and how inequality intersects with race and gender will also be examined.

Democracy in Crisis

Around the world, from Italy to Brazil, and from Hungary to the United States, populist candidates are fundamentally changing the political landscape.

In this course, we explore the nature of populism; investigate whether populism poses an existential threat to liberal democracy; explore the causes of the populist rise; investigate the ways in which populism is a response to demographic change; and discuss what strategies might allow non-populist political actors to push back. Faculty is Yascha Mounk.

UN and International Security

What is the role of the United Nations in maintaining minimum public order? Is it capable of effective action in crisis, and how should it work with other multilateral structures such as NATO and regional groups?

The course looks at the crisis in Kosovo, the Dayton process in Bosnia and recent wars in Africa, as well as the work of the United Nations on weapons of mass destruction and human rights law. Discusses the current reform process, the competition for power between the General Assembly and Security Council and the role of the secretary-general and International Court of Justice. (This is a cross-listed course offered by the International Law and Organizations Program that also can fulfill a requirement for the Conflict Management and Strategic Studies programs.)


Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Matthias Matthijs

Associate Professor of International Political Economy

Mark Gilbert

C. Grove Haines Professor, Professor of History and International Studies

Yascha Mounk

Associate Professor of the Practice

Ling Chen

Assistant Professor of Political Economy

In the News

The Afghanistan War wasn’t a cynical misadventure.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 08/31

Why we need a sane Republican Party.

Yascha Mounk hosted The Good Fight podcast, 08/28

All in or all out? Joe Biden saw no middle ground in Afghanistan.

Vali Nasr quoted in New York Times, 08/28

Africa: USA/global - let Cuba live.

Piero Gleijeses’ book cited on, 07/27

Singapore and the U.S. – China rivalry.

Interim Dean Kent E. Calder interviewed on Hopkins Podcast on Foreign Relations, 08/27

Biden can leave Afghanistan but not the Middle East.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 08/26

Will the China-Russia relationship hold? Understanding contradictions and convergence.

Sergey Radchenko participated in The Democracy Forum webinar, 08/25