Christopher Ansell, Professor

Closed (1) The Post-Socialist European City: Transitions, Variation, and Capacities

Applications for Fall 2018 are now closed for this project.

The European continent has undergone major shifts since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Eleven countries have emerged from a totalitarian Communist system, embracing capitalism and democracy and joining the European Union. These transitions had major effects on governing institutions and practice across the continent. Yet many scholars have found that Socialist legacies endure in spite of major reform efforts, learning initiatives, and aid conditionality. This project seeks to look at the differential legacies of these two major transformations largely in post-Socialist Europe, though will also use comparison cases in Western Europe. While existing research has explored the issue at the national level, this research will focus on subnational variation by looking at the city level.

Students will be responsible for classifying, coding, note-taking, and translating contemporary and historical government documents from German and Hungarian sources. The possibility of parallel work for other post-Socialist EU member countries exists if there are students with appropriate language skills.

Students will participate in the project by collecting data from existing government documents and compile research to build a new dataset to explore what makes city governments in Europe more or less effective.
Students may also, if they have appropriate language skills, translate media reporting, academic articles, and city plans, beyond the documents already obtained for analysis.

This project may be especially appealing to those who are either native speakers of German or Hungarian or advanced language majors with a secondary interest in politics. Students will discover the way that European cities fit within the complex multilevel governance of the European Union and the significant ways they vary from one another.

Students will receive hands-on training in data collection and interpreting the relationships and networks, and strengths and weaknesses, of subnational policy making in Europe. They will have experience working with foreign language documents and on translation in a professional environment. Their efforts will significantly inform research that will explore urban policymaking and subnational politics in contemporary Europe. Students will learn about urban and subnational politics in European countries and changes brought by both the post-Socialist transition and admission to the European Union. Beyond substantive areas, students will learn about the early, exploratory stages of large research projects, formulating research questions, and collecting/interpreting data. Supervision will be primarily done remotely with occasional group meetings, so students must be self-motivated and able to work independently.


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Matthew Stenberg, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Applicants should have some background and familiarity with European politics. Language skills, especially in German and Hungarian, are a requirement. If an applicants has language skills in another post-Socialist EU language, we can discuss possible tasks using those skills; however, we have immediate use for students proficient in German and Hungarian. Students without languages skills who have interests in European history, politics, policymaking, and/or the European Union are encouraged to apply to our second URAP project.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Closed (2) Oversight in the European Union

Applications for Fall 2018 are now closed for this project.

The European Union is a complex international organization that influences all aspects of contemporary European politics and society. While scholars have studied how the European Union interacts with nations a great deal, it is often portrayed as having a limited capacity to enforce its rules and norms at the national level in spite of its high-minded ideals. This project aims to look at one key mechanism of oversight in the European Union as conducted by the European Parliament.

For the 2018-19 school year, we are especially interested in having students research, develop, and code datasets relating to the Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission, datasets which will be merged with our other datasets to create a more comprehensive database at project conclusion.

Students with more technical backgrounds may assist with the development of the programs and algorithms needed to analyze the text and to optimize the data structure. This will take the form of coding, largely in python and R, for large scale text analysis and natural language processing. In this case, appropriate levels of technical skills are prerequisites.

Students will be responsible for coding and cleaning large datasets pertaining to the European Union's oversight. Subsequent tasks may deal with data analysis using the sets prepared by the students. Additionally, students may be asked to read government documents and either A. take notes, B. code variables, or C. prepare a short memo. These materials may be from contemporary European sources or from historical primary sources, depending on what documents the project can obtain.

Students will discover the way that institutions and oversight work within the complex multilevel governance of the European Union. Students will receive hands-on training in data collection and interpreting the relationships and networks, and strengths and weaknesses, of the relationships between levels of government in Europe. Their efforts will significantly inform research that will explore policymaking and subnational politics in contemporary Europe. Students will learn about national and subnational politics in European countries and changes brought by both the post-Socialist transition and admission to the European Union. Beyond substantive areas, students will learn about the early, exploratory stages of large research projects, formulating research questions, and collecting/interpreting data.

Students working on the technical side of the process will gain experience with developing the tools necessary for large N, quantitative text analysis and hands on experience with designing a dataset of significant size for analysis, as well as practical experience with using programming languages on a real world project.

Supervision will be primarily done remotely with occasional group meetings, so students must be self-motivated and able to work independently.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Matthew Stenberg, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Experience with Excel is required. Background in statistics, especially with statistical programs, is desirable, though not essential. After the coding phase, the complexity of tasks given to students will depend on their technical training. Students with interests in European history/government and/or the European Union are also encouraged to apply. For students interested in the technical side of work, students should be comfortable in python and R. Some degree of experience/interest with text analysis or natural language processing would be beneficial, but if students are willing to learn techniques in this area not necessarily required.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated