If you want me to supervise your thesis

If you want me to be your thesis supervisor, here are some points to take into consideration:

  • I mainly supervise empirical theses. That is, I want you to find out something new by doing empirical work. That does not mean that you have to reinvent the wheel. But I want you to do original research. I do not want you to simply remix the literature.
  • The focal point of a good thesis is a hypothesis (or several hypotheses) that is derived from the theoretical literature. This hypothesis is pivotal for your thesis. The hypothesis should be derived logically from the theory. The research design, in turn, should be guided by the hypothesis and serve to test the hypothesis. And your analysis then uses the proposed research design to test the hypothesis. That´s as easy as it gets.
  • That is, if you approach me with a proposal for a thesis topic, you not only have a research question, but ideally, you also have a hypothesis that you want to test. And even more ideally, you also have an idea for a research design to test your hypothesis.
  • The job of the thesis is not to corroborate the hypothesis. Better disconfirm a hypothesis with a well crafted research design than shoddily corroborate a hypothesis.
  • Topics: My main expertise is to supervise topics that touch upon the political system of Germany, the political system of the EU and/or public policy. Here is a list of theses that I have supervised, and here is a list of my current research topics. I especially like to supervise topics that can be subsumed under these research areas.
  • Methods: I am very fond of projects that use quantitative methods and can give advice on how to approach a quantitative project. But I´m open minded with regard to methods, if you have a proposal for a good case study, I can also supervise your project.

Lehre in Göttingen im WS 2017 / Teaching Winter 2017

Im Wintersemester 2017 biete ich in Göttingen vier Veranstaltungen an:

In the winter term 2017, I teach four courses. For Euroculture students, the three courses taught in english are of special interest:

Lehre im SoSe 2017 in Göttingen

Ab dem 1.4.2017 bin ich Professor für das politische System der BRD in Göttingen, und biete vier Lehrveranstaltungen an:

Ich gebe hier an dieser Stelle Bescheid, sobald die Kurse im StudIP angelegt sind. Wenn Sie vorher schon etwas über die Veranstaltungen wissen wollen, schreiben Sie mir einfach eine Mail.

Teaching International Organizations as Bureaucracies

I have a new blog post for the ivory tower blog. In a nutshell: One of my favourite topics when teaching international organizations is the Weberian view of international organizations as bureaucracies articulated by Martha Finnemore and Michael Barnett. The UNHCR field manuals provide a very nice real-world illustration of this perspective and are very helpful to illustrate the argument that definitions and categories are extremely powerful.

The Medici Marriage Network in Florence

In my course on policy networks, I today discussed and re-analyzed the famous article „Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici“ by Padgett and Ansell. We tried to find network visualizations that test (or illustrate) the claims made in the article, e.g.

„The Medici party was an extraordinarily centralized, and simple „star“ or „spoke“ network system.“ (p.1278)

One central claim is that

„The Medici did not marry those with whom they lived.“ (p.1281)

My students suggested that it would be nice to test this claim using actual geographical data. And thanks to the geographic mapping feature of visone, it worked out really well. I used wikipedia and http://www.mapcoordinates.net/ to find the coordinates of the headquarters of the main Florentine families (it was quite easy, if a family is called Strozzi, it is likely that there still is a „Palazzo Strozzi“), and merged these coordinate data to the visone network data.

Then I used mapping – coordinates – geographic, and here it is:


In the background is a map of Florence. The Medici and their supporters are green, their opponents purple, and those families with split loyalties are green. There is surely room for improvement, but we can see how the Medici (living „up north“) have their marriage ties spread out through the city, but not to those living close by (the Pucci, Ginori and Bischeri, for example).

Clever, clever Lorenzo de Medici…