With its broad geographic scope, comparative politics covers a diverse range of research questions: Why are some countries democratic while others are not? What accounts for variation in welfare policies across countries and over time? How do political institutions shape economic development? Under what conditions do ethnic identities become politically relevant and how does their politicization affect political outcomes? Why does political violence occur and what are its effects? How do citizens learn about and understand the actions of political elites? A hallmark of comparative research addressing such questions at Columbia is its methodological diversity, with students and scholars drawing on case studies, statistics, formal modeling, field experiments, ethnography, and historical analysis in their research.
Columbia's comparativists also often draw on their deep substantive knowledge of particular regions--including Africa, East Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East--to address questions that are important to these regions and also to political science research more generally. The comparative subfield at Columbia is well-integrated with other subfields, with frequent intellectual engagement occurring with scholars in American politics and international relations.